December 31, 2019 / 2:37 PM / 2 months ago

Trump says U.S.-China trade deal will be signed on January 15

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Phase 1 of trade deal with China would be signed on Jan. 15 at the White House, though considerable confusion remains about the details of the agreement.

The president wrote in a tweet that he would sign the deal with “high level representatives of China” and that he would later travel to Beijing to begin talks on the next phase.

Last week, Trump said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping would host a signing ceremony to ink the Phase 1 deal.

The Phase 1 deal, struck earlier this month, is expected to reduce tariffs and boost Chinese purchases of American farm, energy and manufactured goods while addressing some disputes over intellectual property.

However, no version of the text has been made public, and Chinese officials have yet to publicly commit to key planks, such as increasing imports of U.S. goods and services by $200 billion over two years.

China bought $130 billion in U.S. goods in 2017, before the trade war began, and $56 billion in services, U.S. data show.

The United States launched a trade war against Beijing a year and half ago over allegations of unfair trade practices, such as theft of U.S. intellectual property and subsidies that unfairly benefit Chinese state-owned companies.

The United States Trade Representative said the Phase 1 deal includes stronger Chinese legal protections for patents, trademarks, copyrights, including improved criminal and civil procedures to combat online infringement, pirated and counterfeit goods.

Issues such as industrial subsidies would be addressed in a later deal, U.S. authorities said.

Slideshow (3 Images)

The escalating tit-for-tat tariffs, which began in July, 2018, have roiled markets and crimped economic growth worldwide.

Though it was not immediately clear who would represent the Chinese delegation at the signing, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday that Vice Premier Liu He would visit Washington to sign the deal.

Asked Tuesday when the deal might be signed, China’s foreign ministry spokesman referred questions to China’s Department of Commerce.

Reporting by Diane Bartz and Alexandra Alper; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Nick Zieminski

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