JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The Chinese delegation, to be led by Vice Premier Liu He, will travel to Washington early next week to sign a phase-one trade deal with the United States (US), China’s Commerce Ministry announced on Thursday (01/09), the first official confirmation by Beijing on the signing of an agreement that could help ease bilateral tensions.
“At the invitation of the US side, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chief of the Chinese side of the China-US comprehensive economic dialogue, will lead a delegation to visit Washington from Jan. 13 to 15,” the statement said.
The two sides are in close contact for the arrangements of the signing of the agreement, said Gao Feng, a spokesman at the commerce ministry, Xinhua reported. Negotiating teams from both sides remain in close communication on the particular arrangements of the signing, he adds.
This is the first Chinese confirmation that the deal would be signed after US President Donald Trump said on December 31 that the phase-one deal with China would be signed on January 15 at the White House.
There was no mention of whether Liu will be designated a special envoy for President Xi Jinping, a title he held on some previous trips to Washington. Trump had said 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.
The phase-one deal reached last month is expected to cut tariffs and boost Chinese purchases of US farm, energy, and manufactured goods while addressing some disputes over intellectual property.
But no version of the text has been made public, and Chinese officials have yet to publicly commit to key points such as increased imports of US goods and services by US$200bn over two years.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said he expects the 86-page document of the deal will be publicly released after it is signed.
The US launched a trade war against Beijing a year and a half ago over allegations of unfair trade practices, such as theft of US intellectual property and subsidies that unfairly benefit Chinese state-owned companies.
The statement from China on Thursday suggested that progress had been made after weeks of legal scrubs and translation processes between the two nations. The Trump administration has said that after the first stage is inked, trade negotiators would immediately begin to work toward a more comprehensive trade agreement.
Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: email@example.com