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China cautiously welcomes 'hard-fought' trade deal with US

China cautiously welcomes 'hard-fought' trade deal with US

A Chinese national flag is seen at a port in Beihai, Guangxi province, China, Jun 17, 2017. (File photo: Reuters)

BEIJING: A freshly inked trade deal signed by China and the US has "considerably addressed the concerns" of both sides, said Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

Chinese state media on Thursday (Jan 16) echoed Liu's welcome of the trade deal - calling it a "hard-fought agreement" - but warned that "it would not take much" to break the truce in the trade impasse between the world's two biggest economies.

The US and China signed the partial trade deal in Washington on Wednesday, with China agreeing to buy over two years US$200 billion more in US goods than it did in 2017, before the trade war began.

China's finance ministry on Thursday released the Chinese-language version of the deal, which contains monetary values and time-frame in line with the US version.

READ: What's in the new US-China 'phase one' trade deal?

READ: What's next after the US-China 'phase one' deal?

China's commitment includes US$32 billion in American farm products and seafood, almost US$78 billion in manufactured goods like aircraft, machinery and steel and US$52 billion in energy goods.

Washington promised to slash in half 15 per cent tariffs on US$120 billion of consumer products, with officials saying the reduction will take effect in 30 days, when the deal enters into force.

Trends in trade in goods between China and US. AFP/Gal ROMA

China and the US acknowledged that purchases will be made at market prices based on commercial considerations, and that market conditions, particularly for agricultural goods, may dictate timing of purchases in any given year.

Liu, who led negotiations for Beijing, said that the "phase one" deal bears both economic and political significance, reported the official Xinhua news agency.

The perennial US trade deficit with China has been a major source of anger for President Donald Trump, who has slapped tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods, triggering tit-for-tat responses from Beijing.

Liu added China will further deepen its domestic reforms and open up more to the outside world.

With China's full-year growth forecast due to be announced on Friday, Liu added that the country's gross domestic product is expected to come in above 6 per cent for the full year of 2019 - which would hit Beijing's target to keep annual growth between 6.0 and 6.5 percent.

An AFP poll of economists at 14 institutions predicted that the world's second-largest economy is set to clock 6.1 per cent GDP growth for the full year.

January data also indicated a better-than-expected economic outlook, Liu said.


Chinese state media hailed the signing of the deal, which came after nearly two years of conflict, but warned of uncertainties that could jeopardise future relations.

READ: Despite trade signing, disputes abound between US, China

READ: The US-China trade war in dates

China's nationalistic Global Times, a tabloid with an English-language edition, described the deal as "a hard-fought agreement (which) should be cherished by both sides".

The China Daily said that "with the signing of the deal, it is now to be hoped that the detente leads to lasting peace".

Communist Party mouthpiece The People's Daily called it "a new starting point" for US-China relations, while state broadcaster CCTV said the deal was "in the common interest" of both the US and China.

"China-US economic and trade frictions have achieved a phased 'ceasefire' and have taken a practical step towards the ultimate resolution of the problem," CCTV said in a commentary.

But state media also warned the nation should brace for future clashes with the US.

"The elation was quickly tempered by suspicions that it would not take much to banjax the deal", wrote the China Daily in an editorial.

READ: In US-China Phase 1 trade deal, enforcement may end in 'We quit'

It added that there was a "sobering realisation" that if the deal collapsed it would damage the next phase of the agreement and bring tensions to a head again.

The People's Daily described it as "a stormy process in which China and the US know each other's determination, strength and energy".

The Global Times questioned the resilience of the deal, asking: "Can a preliminary trade agreement, reached during a period when China-US strategic relations are clearly declining, really work?"

"Will it be replaced by new conflicts or further progress as negotiations continue?"

It warned: "Huge uncertainty remains".

Under the text of the deal, which US President Donald Trump signed with China's Vice Premier Liu He, both sides agree that they can formally complain to each other if either feels the other side is not holding to its end of the bargain.

Source: Agencies/jt


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