- Trump made renegotiating trade terms between the US and China a key plank of his presidential campaign
- This is the first sign of progress on a 100-day action plan
The initial slate of commitments from the two countries marked the first sign of progress on the 100-day action plan that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping called for during their meeting at Trump’s Florida estate last month. Trump made renegotiating trade terms between the United States and China a key plank of his presidential campaign, and said last month he hoped to make progress with China in the short term.
Under the agreement, China will allow US beef exports to flow directly to the country for the first time since 2003, while the United States will take steps to authorize Chinese imports of cooked poultry into the United States by July 16. The United States and China also agreed to open up US exports of liquefied natural gas to China, which could be a boon for both countries.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the initial agreement, which would also open up the Chinese market to US electronic payment services companies and help Chinese banks gain broader access to the US financial market, would help “bring down” the US trade deficit with China, though he did not provide a precise estimate.
Trump railed against that deficit during his campaign and vowed to reduce it as President. While he floated drastic measures like imposing a tariff on Chinese imports, Trump has instead favored bilateral negotiations thus far.
Ross called the agreement a “herculean accomplishment” and argued the deal represented the biggest accomplishment in US-China trade negotiations “in the whole history of US-China relations.”
Joshua Meltzer, a senior fellow in the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution, called Ross’s characterization “an overstatement, to put it mildly,” but said the agreement marked a positive initial step to come out of the renewed US-Chinese comprehensive economic dialogue.
The agreement could mark new opportunities for the US agricultural, energy and financial sectors, which have often struggled for market access in China, Meltzer said.
But he noted that China has “made a lot of positive commitments that it hasn’t followed through on” in the past.
“It remains to be seen how much of these turn into real market access,” Meltzerd said.
No ‘quid pro quo’
Trump signed off on the agreement following weeks of discussions that he delegated to his secretaries of Commerce and Treasury, which Ross said took place “mostly at very inconvenient hours” owing to the 12-hour time difference between the two countries.