China said parts of the text for the first phase of a trade deal with the U.S. are “basically completed” as the two sides reached a consensus in areas including standards used by agricultural regulators.
The comments Oct. 26 followed a call Friday with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The trade negotiators “agreed to properly resolve their core concerns and confirmed that the technical consultations of some of the text agreement were basically completed,” China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement Oct. 26.
Earlier on Oct. 25, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement that the U.S. and China are close to finalizing sections of the first phase of a trade deal that President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping hope to sign at a summit in Chile next month.
In the statement from China, the two sides reached an agreement for the U.S. to import cooked poultry products from China, as well as to regard its catfish product regulation system as equivalent to the U.S. The Asian country will also lift the ban on American poultry exports and apply the Public Health Information System for meat products, the ministry said.
U.S. officials have said the first phase of the agreement will also include Chinese commitments on intellectual property and currency provisions. China is also expected to resume purchases of U.S. agricultural products at a level last seen before the trade wars started in 2018, in return for a pause in further U.S. tariffs, according to people familiar with the matter.
The call came just a day after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence gave a long-awaited speech excoriating China for its authoritarian rule and backing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The speech prompted an angry response from China’s foreign ministry where a spokeswoman urged Pence and the U.S. to focus on its own problems.
Trump has said he wants to sign the first phase of a trade deal with China at a Nov. 16-17 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Santiago, Chile. But when he announced the phased deal earlier this month he also conceded the two sides still needed to work out many details and to put it in writing.
“We’re doing very well with China” and “they want to make a deal very badly,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House Oct. 25.
There are still major questions over whether the second phase of a deal will ever happen.
In a sign that not all issues had been resolved, USTR said discussions “will go on continuously at the deputy level” with Lighthizer and Mnuchin due to speak with Liu again “in the near future.” China’s statement also confirmed the plan.
White House officials were nevertheless eager to continue portraying progress in bringing at least a pause to the trade wars that have unnerved financial markets and businesses around the world for more than a year and contributed to a slowing U.S. economy.
“We had excellent talks this morning. That will continue,” Peter Navarro, a White House trade adviser, told Fox News.
“This is not one-and-done in phase one. This is phase one hopefully mid-November and then just keep rolling along,” he said. “There’s no chance that if we get all three phases of the deal that it will be watered down in any way.”