Trump: First Phase of China Deal Is in ‘Final Throes’

The United States and China may be nearing a trade deal.

During Tuesday’s meeting with reporters at the White House, President Donald Trump said that the “phase one” trade deal was close to complete, following phone discussions between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“We’re in the final throes of a very important deal,” Trump said. “It’s going very well.”

Separately, a statement from China’s Ministry of Commerce read that delegates from the world’s two largest economies have “reached consensus on how to resolve relevant issues” and “agreed to maintain communication on remaining issues” that would make up the first phase of their agreement.

The comments signal progress on the status of a more-than-yearlong trade dispute that has seen heavy import taxes on billions of dollars’ worth of goods from both countries.

Last week, Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesperson Gao Feng said that China was ready to work with the U.S. to resolve concerns “on the basis of equality and mutual respect” as they approach a deal that “serves the interests of both countries and the rest of the world.”

The countries in October said they were working to hash out a “phase one” agreement but had since made conflicting announcements on what such a deal would entail. On Nov. 7, Gao said that the U.S. and China had reached a deal to roll back tariffs scheduled to take effect in mid-December. A day later, however, Trump denied having agreed to curtail those duties.

In the past year and a half, the U.S. and China have imposed new duties on billions of dollars in items coming from both countries. The first round of the fourth tranche of tariffs hit businesses on Sept. 1, introducing a 15% levy on certain Chinese products, including footwear, apparel and accessories.

Less than three weeks remain before the tariffs on the second round of the fourth tranche are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 15. The 15% duty would also affect a wide variety of consumer goods.

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