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U.S. sectors pleased to see phase-one trade deal with China

WASHINGTON
2020-01-17 16:21

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Representatives from a variety of U.S. sectors said that they are pleased to see the just-signed phase-one economic and trade agreement between China and the United States, and that they are looking forward to further removal of additional tariffs imposed since 2018.

China and the United States formally signed their phase-one economic and trade agreement in Washington on Wednesday, with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. President Donald Trump inking the papers at the White House.

The agreement ranges from expanding bilateral trade in such sectors as agricultural products, manufactured goods, energy, and service, further broadening market access, to enhancing the protection of intellectual property (IP) rights.

The trade agreement "is going to be encouraging certainly for agriculture in the United States," 70-year-old farmer Joe Boddiford told Xinhua a few days before the signing ceremony.

Boddiford, who has farmed for 45 years on his 2,400-acre (971-hectare) farm in Sylvania, the U.S. state of Georgia, said the cotton and corn markets both rallied "a couple of weeks" before the signing of the agreement.

Futures prices for corn were up some 5 percent during the last one to two weeks, meanwhile cotton futures prices rose about 8 percent to 10 percent, according to Boddiford, who also grows peanut in addition to corn and cotton.

Farmers are "fairly optimistic" about the prospect of U.S.-China agricultural trade, said Boddiford, adding that they generally believe that a deal between the world's top two economies to resolve their trade disputes "is the only thing to help with the situation" that U.S. farmers are in.

"We're all looking for a bright future out there because we faced the most negative stuff in the last couple of years," he said.

Gary Adams, president and CEO of Cordova, Tennessee-based National Cotton Council, told Xinhua that people in the U.S. cotton industry are glad to see the country reach the phase-one trade deal with China.

"The ongoing trade dispute between the two countries has certainly had a significant impact on the U.S. cotton prices and U.S. export sales to China," Adams said. "So overall, we are certainly pleased to see the agreement come into place."

The signing of the deal was "clearly something that the market has been anticipating and has been waiting for," Adams said.

Echoing Boddiford, he said that cotton prices on the futures market recently went up 5 cents per pound. "I'm talking about just probably over the course of the past month."

Adams said the National Cotton Council is "certainly hopeful" that the phase-one deal "will lead to a stronger trading relationship between the two countries," adding that his organization sees "a lot of potential there for beneficial bilateral trade between the two countries."

Calling the phase-one deal "a confidence booster" that "allows us to build the market" in China, Don Koehler, executive director of the Georgia Peanut Commission -- of which Boddiford is a member -- said the commission views "the people of China as very good, potential customers."

"China is certainly a market we will be working in," Koehler said. Judging from the situation U.S. peanut farmers are in right now, he expected that an increase of U.S. peanut export to China "will be significant compared to where we have been."

Besides the agriculture sector, U.S. shoe-maker Allbirds, Inc, among other enterprises, has also welcomed the signing of the trade deal.

"We're obviously happy about it," if the deal rolls down tariffs on Chinese exported goods to the United States, Eric Haskell, head of international operation with the company, told Xinhua on Tuesday.

Haskell said the exports of Allbirds' shoes from China have been impacted by tariffs imposed by the United States.

"In general, we of course prefer trade barriers to be low. We believe in free trade and because we are good business, it's important that we can move products freely around the world," said Haskell.

Talking about the trade deal, Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun lauded the leadership of the two countries' leaders in "building a fair and mutually-beneficial trading relationship between the United States and China."

The agreement is "a sign of real progress and a welcomed first step," Chris Swonger, president & CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States said in a statement Wednesday.

American spirits exports to China declined 8 percent between January and November in 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, it said.

National Retail Federation (NRF), which has led the retail industry's fight against tariffs and is a key member of the Americans for Free Trade coalition, also welcomed the signing of the deal.

"The trade war won't be over until all of these tariffs are gone. We are glad to see the phase one deal signed, and resolution of phase two can't come soon enough," said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF.

"We've experienced 14 consecutive months of declining exports and China has developed new trading partners," Gene Seroka, executive director for the Port of Los Angeles was quoted by the local Long Beach Press-Telegram news website as saying.

Meanwhile, Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero applauded the new agreement.

"Specifically for this gateway, the pledge by China to buy more agricultural goods is a big deal for California's farmers, who saw their buyers of almonds, pistachios, dairy products, wine, and other goods dry up in the trade war," he told the news outlet.
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