Jan 15, 2020

U.S. and China sign "phase one" trade agreement

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and President Trump at the signing ceremony. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed Wednesday the "phase one" trade deal between the U.S. and China.

The big picture: The 18-month trade war between the two countries has largely lacked significant breakthroughs, causing major market uncertainty and hammering the U.S. manufacturing industry. This reprieve — which will take effect in 30 days — could help that sector to rebound this year.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Dan Primack: The deal seems to basically be an agriculture purchase agreement — and does little to address the core issues that the president supposedly cares about.

  • China wanted and needed to purchase agricultural goods anyway.
  • The initial agreement also suspended a planned round of December tariffs by the U.S., but that decision didn't have an impact on American consumers during the holiday season, as those goods had already been imported.

Worth noting: Chinese President Xi Jinping is not in Washington for the occasion — but he did have Liu read a personal letter from him at the event.

  • Trump said in a New Year's Eve tweet that he would head to Beijing "at a later date" to begin talks for the "phase two" deal.
  • The president riffed for over 30 minutes before signing the deal — thanking dozens of politicians and CEOs by name who were scattered around the room.

Read the full agreement — the first time the text has been publicly released:

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