President Trump on Wednesday signed a “phase one” trade agreement with China, marking the beginning of improved trade relations after months of negotiations and two years of tariff battles that have slowed global economic growth and hit U.S. farmers hard.
“Today we take a momentous step, one that has never been taken before with China, toward a future of fair and reciprocal trade as we sign Phase One of the historic trade deal between the United States and China,” Trump said during a signing ceremony at the White House. “Together, we are righting the wrongs of the past and delivering a future of economic justice and security for American workers, farmers and families.”
The president added that he plans to visit Beijing to negotiate the next phase of trade relations between the world’s two largest economies.
The deal includes China’s agreement to buy about $200 billion worth of U.S. goods over two years, including nearly doubling its purchases of agricultural products to $40 billion. The U.S. will ease off on some tariffs, but duties on $250 billion in Chinese goods will remain.
The deal also addresses the way China handles intellectual property rights and forced technology transfer.
On Monday, the administration dropped its designation of China as a currency manipulator in anticipation of the agreement, which commits C4hina to preserving the integrity of its currency.
Democrats slammed the agreement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling it an “extreme disappointment.”
“The terms of the agreement will result in very little progress in reforming China’s rapacious trade behaviors and seems like it could send a signal to Chinese negotiators that the U.S. can be steamrolled,” Schumer wrote in a letter to the White House on Monday.
China agreed in August to restart trade talks with the Trump administration, prompting the U.S. to agree to delay additional tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese products. The U.S. currently has heavy tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports, while China has tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. products.