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China-U.S. phase-one trade deal: Important first step in right direction

BEIJING
2020-01-17 11:05

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by Xinhua writer Shi Xiaomeng

BEIJING, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- China and the United States signed a phase-one economic and trade agreement on Wednesday in Washington, marking an important first step towards a final settlement of their trade disputes.

The hard-won agreement, inked by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House, and drafted after 13 rounds of consultations, reflects the principles of equality and mutual respect, and proves that the world's top two economies are capable of properly addressing their differences.

In the deal, the U.S. side has pledged to cancel some of its additional tariffs on Chinese products, marking a policy change from hiking to cutting additional tariffs.

The two sides have also agreed to further broaden market access, including further opening up of each other's financial markets, in order to provide more opportunities for both Chinese and U.S. businesses.

The deal is of great significance for the two countries as it reins in the destructive trade frictions between the world's two largest economies.

Trade wars have no winners, plain and simple. Over the past 18 months since the United States initiated its protectionist tariff campaign against China, the immeasurable losses have grown too gargantuan to deny.

Farmers in the U.S. states of Iowa and Illinois watched their soybeans pile up, fearing they might lose the China market. U.S. importers are paying the price of punitive duties at customs and struggle with rising costs; ordinary working families have to pay more for the same products at Walmart and Target.

Over the decades, bilateral trade between the two countries has become stupendous in scale, and still boasts tremendous potential. With China in the midst of pursuing high-quality economic development, the deal can help meet China's swelling demands in agricultural and energy products, and offer more quality goods and services to Chinese consumers.

For the United States, China is not only the second largest importer of America's agricultural products, but also an indispensible host to many U.S. enterprises. A normalized economic and trade relationship would mean more business opportunities for U.S. firms.

Expect the world to profit from the trade pact. The global economy has been battered hard over the past two years. A spike in tariffs has taken stock markets worldwide on a roller coaster ride, rattled global supply chains, and obfuscated global economic prospects. Consequently, the world economy in 2019 is expected to deliver its slowest growth since the 2008 global financial crisis, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Amid an increasingly uncertain global economic outlook, the deal can help shore up global confidence, and stabilize financial markets.

During the consultations, Beijing has demonstrated consistent strategic composure, utmost sincerity and steadfast patience, and has turned back Washington's unreasonable demands.

The trade talks have provided a blueprint for the two sides to tackle other areas of concern and manage their differences.

Signing the deal is only a start. The two sides need to implement the agreement and continue to meet each other halfway.

Decision-makers in Washington must join their Chinese colleagues in moving China-U.S. relations forward, based on coordination, cooperation and stability. Doing so would ensure the sound stewardship of the world's most important bilateral relationship.
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