President Donald Trump had hoped to sign the "phase 1" trade agreement with China while at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Chile this month, but on Oct. 30, Chile cancelled the summit due to domestic unrest. The Trump Administration still seems confident that it can sign a deal with China in the upcoming weeks, though.
In a tweet Thursday morning, Trump wrote, "China and the USA are working on selecting a new site for signing of Phase One of Trade Agreement, about 60% of total deal, after APEC in Chile was canceled due to unrelated circumstances. The new location will be announced soon. President Xi [Jinping] and President Trump will do signing!"
In a statement on Thursday, China's commerce ministry said talks between the two countries continue, and lead negotiators from both countries were expected to speak on Friday.
Chinese officials are concerned about Trump’s impulsive nature and the risk that he may back out of even the limited deal both sides say they want to sign in the coming weeks. Chinese policy-makers gathering in Beijing, China, for a key political meeting have low expectations that future negotiations will result in anything meaningful unless the U.S. is willing to roll back more tariffs.
Phase 1 of the trade agreement included a pledge for China to buy $40-50 billion in U.S. agricultural products. However, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative plans to maintain some tariffs on Chinese goods for three years, according to a Federal Register notice published Friday.
Also on Friday, the World Trade Organization granted China the right to impose $3.6 billion in sanctions against the U.S. in a challenge brought before the world court before the Trump Administration’s tariff war with China had started. The ruling deals with matters outside the current negotiated issues but could give China a new and legal weapon to use against the U.S. if it chooses to do so.
At issue in the case were U.S. antidumping duties imposed on 13 imported Chinese products, including machinery, electronics, metals and minerals. The challenge was first brought by China in 2013, and a WTO panel ruled in Beijing’s favor in 2016.
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said in its weekly "Capitol Update" on Nov. 1 that it is seeking permanent removal of all punitive tariffs on U.S. pork. “With African swine fever dramatically reducing domestic production [in China], the United States is well positioned to meet China's need for safe, nutritious and affordable pork and to manage an emerging food price inflation challenge. In doing so, U.S. pork can single-handedly put a huge dent in the United States' trade imbalance with China,” NPPC said.
Soybean purchases have taken the hardest hit from the trade war with China. The American Soybean Assn. said it continues to work with the Administration to push a phase 1 trade agreement across the finish line.