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Robert Lighthizer predicts near-doubling of US exports under phase one agreement

The phase one US-China trade deal will nearly double US exports to China over the next two years and is totally done despite the need for translation and revisions to its text, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said on Sunday.

Lighthizer, speaking to CBSs Face the Nation, said there would be some routine scrubs to the text but this is totally done, absolutely.

Lighthizer said a date and location for senior US and Chinese officials to formally sign the agreement was still being determined.

The deal, announced on Friday after more than two and a half years of on-and-off negotiations between Washington and Beijing, will reduce some US tariffs on Chinese goods in exchange for increased Chinese purchases of US agricultural, manufactured and energy products by some $200bn over the next two years.

China has also pledged to better protect US intellectual property, to curb the coerced transfer of US technology to Chinese firms, to open its financial services market to US firms and to avoid manipulation of its currency.

Chinese purchases of agricultural goods are expected to increase to $40bn to $50bn annually over the next two years, Lighthizer said. The US exported about $24bn in farm products to China in 2017, the last full year before the worlds two largest economies launched a tariff war on each others goods in July 2018.

Lighthizer said the success of the deal will be up to decisions by officials Beijing.

Ultimately, whether this whole agreement works is going to be determined by whos making the decisions in China, not in the United States, he said. If the hard-liners are making the decisions were going to get one outcome, if the reformers are making the decisions, which is what we hope, then were going to get another outcome.

He said it would not solve all of the problems between the US and China, because integrating Chinas state-dominated economic system with Americas private-sector led system will take years.

Lighthizer called Friday the most momentous day in trade history because of the China deal and because the White House sent a revised US-Mexico-Canada Agreement to Congress for approval votes. The two trade deals together cover some $2tn in overall trade, he said.

But the USMCA, which would replace the 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, has run into last minute snags as Mexicos chief negotiator, Jess Seade, has objected to congressional language on implementation of the trade deal that calls for the designation of up to five US experts to monitor Mexicos compliance with labor reforms.

Seade is due to travel to Washington on Sunday to raise his objections with Lighthizer.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/dec/15/us-china-trade-deal-trump-lighthizer