A Good Start on US-China Trade Deal
In January, the U.S. and China agreed to a trade deal that cut some U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods in exchange for Chinese pledges to purchase more American farm, energy and manufactured goods and address U.S. complaints about intellectual property practices.
Specifically, China agreed to increase purchases of U.S. products and services by at least $200 billion over the next two years. In 2017, before the trade war began, China bought $130 billion in U.S. goods and $56 billion in services. Under the deal, China commits to buying an additional $77.7 billion in manufactured goods, $52.4 billion in energy exports, $32 billion in agricultural commodities, and $37.9 billion in services.
In return, the U.S. will reduce the tariff it imposed last fall on $120 billion in Chinese goods from 15 percent to 7.5 percent. Earlier tariffs of 25 percent on $250 billion in Chinese goods will remain, though they could be rolled back in subsequent negotiations. Tariffs that were scheduled to go into effect Dec. 15 on $160 billion in Chinese goods, including cellphones, laptops, toys and clothing, are suspended. China’s retaliatory tariffs, including a 25 percent tariff on U.S.-made autos, have also been suspended.
The deal includes stronger Chinese legal protections for patents, trademarks and copyrights, including improved criminal and civil procedures to combat online infringement and counterfeit goods. The deal also contains commitments by China to follow through on previous pledges to eliminate pressure on foreign companies to transfer technology to Chinese firms as a condition of market access, licensing or administrative approvals.
In addition, the deal contains pledges by China to refrain from competitive currency devaluations and to not manipulate its exchange rate for trade advantage—language that China has accepted for years as part of commitments to the Group of 20 nations. Now, however, China has made “enforceable commitments to refrain from competitive devaluation” and agreed to publish data on exchange rates and external balances. This agreement is based on provisions in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement trade deal, which require the three countries to disclose monthly data on international reserve balances and intervention in foreign exchange markets.
The U.S. and China will resolve differences over how the deal is implemented through bilateral consultations, starting at the working level and escalating to top-level officials. If these consultations do not resolve disputes, there is a process for imposing tariffs or other penalties.
The National Association of Manufacturers lauds the deal. “No other administration has achieved this level of success with…America’s primary economic adversary in the past three decades,” says Jay Timmons, NAM’s president and CEO. “This is an indisputable win for our country and a momentous day in the U.S.-China economic relationship.”
Let’s hope he’s right.