WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump signed a trade agreement Wednesday with China that is expected to boost exports from U.S. farmers and manufacturers and is aimed at lowering tensions in a long-running dispute between the economic powers.
Trump said during a White House ceremony that the deal is “righting the wrongs of the past." He promoted the signing as a way of delivering economic justice for American workers and said, "We mark a sea change in international trade" with the signing.
Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, chair of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy issued the following statement on the signing:
“There’s no doubt that this is an exciting start to the new year for the great state of Iowa—from the phase one China trade agreement being finalized to the USMCA moving through the Senate, I’m proud to work with President Trump to deliver real results for Iowa’s farmers and manufacturers. I was honored to join the President, Senator Chuck Grassley, and Governor Kim Reynolds at the White House for today’s signing ceremony. As Iowa’s 4th largest trading partner, China is a critically important market for Iowans, and this phase one deal – which is especially promising for our ag and manufacturing sectors – will help provide certainty for folks back home and starts to address other long-time issues with China: forced technology transfers and non-tariff trade barriers. As always, it’s imperative we keep the pressure on China to uphold their end of the bargain to ensure Iowa’s farmers and businesses see the full impact of this trade agreement.”
Chinese leader Xi Jinping, in a letter to Trump that was read by Beijing's chief negotiator Liu He, said concluding the first phase of the trade deal was "good for China, the U.S. and for the whole world"
But the “Phase 1” trade agreement would do little to force China to make the major economic changes such as reducing unfair subsidies for its own companies that the Trump administration sought when it started the trade war by imposing tariffs on Chinese imports in July 2018.
The White House ceremony gave Trump a chance to cite progress on a top economic priority on the same day that the House prepared to vote to send articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial.
“Our efforts have yielded a transformative deal that will bring benefits to both countries,'' Trump said. He added: ”K eeping these two giant and powerful nations together in harmony is so important for the world" and said "the world is watching today.”
The agreement is intended to ease some U.S. economic sanctions on China while Beijing would step up purchases of American farm products and other goods. Trump cited beef, pork, poulty, seafood, rice and dairy products as examples.
The deal would lower tensions in a trade dispute that has slowed global growth, hurt American manufacturers and weighed on the Chinese economy.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds issued the following statement on the new trade deal:
“Today, President Trump secured a historic win for the American people. Forging a stronger trade agreement with China puts Iowa farmers, families, and small businesses first. It was an honor to attend the signing ceremony, at the invitation of the President, and witness such an iconic moment.”
“By opening and expanding markets for our products, protecting intellectual property, and setting standards for currency valuation, President Trump has provided the American economy with a foundation for exponential growth and economic prosperity.”
“I want to commend the President and his entire team, including Ambassador Branstad and trade Ambassador Lighthizer for being a staunch advocate for American farmers and workers. I look forward to working with the administration to build on the progress made today.”
In remarks to an audience of administration officials, lawmakers and business leaders, Trump said before the signing that the “unbelievable deal” would benefit both countries and "lead to even a more stable peace throughout the world.''
Thornier trade-related issues are expected to be taken up in future rounds of negotiations. But it’s unclear when those talks might begin, and few observers expect much progress before the U.S. presidential election in November.
“It is imperative that we develop trade and economic rules and practices that allow us both to prosper. The alternative is not acceptable for either of us,” said Trump's chief trade representative, Robert Lighthizer.
His Chinese counterpart said "the world is now at a critical historical crossroads" facing choices of how to promote country-to-country cooperation.
"Cooperation is the only right choice,'' said Liu, the vice premier.
Senator Ernst, Senator Chuck Grassley, Governor Reynolds, and U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad joined President Trump for Wednesday’s signing ceremony.