October Tariff Hike Suspended, First Phase of Potential Trade Deal Outlined

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Washington, D.C.—President Donald Trump outlined the first phase of a deal to end the trade war with China and suspended the October tariff hike, according to Reuters, but officials on both sides said that more work needs to be done before an accord could be agreed upon.

The emerging deal would cover agriculture, currency, and some aspects of intellectual property protections—but Friday’s announcement did not include many details, and Trump said it could take up to five weeks to get a pact written, while acknowledging that the agreement could fall apart during that period.

Trump praised China for agreeing to buy as much as $50 billion in agricultural products, but left tariffs in place. He also hasn’t made a decision regarding tariffs subject to go into effect in December.

Reuters reported that proposed intellectual property provisions were largely centered on strengthening IP protections such as those involving copyrights, trademarks, and piracy, but didn’t address data flows, cybersecurity, product standards reviews, and a social credit system that evaluates company behavior.

Trump said that some IP issues would be left for later phases. Talks over a second phase could begin as soon as the first agreement is signed, and Trump noted that a third phase might be necessary, too.

Reuters report that China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper called the latest round of talks constructive, frank, and efficient, but added that “it is impossible to resolve the problem by putting arbitrary pressure on the Chinese side.”

Reuters quotes U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as saying: “I think we have a fundamental understanding on the key issues. We’ve gone through a significant amount of paper, but there is more work to do. We will not sign an agreement unless we get and can tell the president that this is on paper.”

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