U.S. and China Reach Initial Trade Deal

Wang Shouwen, China’s vice commerce minister, said Friday evening at a news conference in Beijing that the two sides had made “significant progress” and that the agreement would result in the United States removing some of the tariffs it had placed on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods. Those tariffs would come off “phase by phase” and the United States would agree to exempt more Chinese products from being taxed, he said.

“This will create better conditions for China and the United States to strengthen cooperation,” Mr. Wang said.

China confirmed that the agreement included a commitment to buy more American agriculture products and to strengthen laws protecting foreign companies operating in China, as well as beefing up intellectual property rules and providing more transparency around currency movements. Mr. Wang said that both sides had agreed to complete legal reviews as quickly as possible and that an official signing was still being worked out.

The trade war between the United States and China has taken a major toll on America’s farmers and Mr. Trump has consistently promised that Beijing will commit to buying $50 billion worth of farm goods as part of a trade pact.

“I think they’ll hit $50 billion,” he said on Friday. “They’ve already stepped it up.”

But both countries were initially coy about the quantity of American farm products that China would buy, with the office of the United States trade representative only describing China’s commitment as “substantial.” The Chinese government did not give a precise figure at a Beijing news conference, saying only that purchases would increase by a “considerable margin” to meet China’s needs for goods like soybean and pork.

During a briefing at the White House, Robert Lighthizer, Mr. Trump’s top trade negotiator, said China had made commitments to increase purchases of American agriculture, energy, manufacturing and services products. China’s farm purchases are expected to grow to at least $40 billion a year over a period of two years, he said, and the total exports to China will increase by $200 billion.

Mr. Lighthizer pointed to an agreement on currency, which he said would add transparency over how the renminbi is managed and a commitment by China not to devalue it for competitive purposes. He said China had also committed to ending its practice of forcing American companies to hand over their technology when trying to gain access to the Chinese market.