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Trade agreement needs signing into effect

By Zhang Zhouxiang | China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-16 07:46


Trade agreement needs signing into effect

How did the China-US trade negotiations go in Washington?

It seems some people still find it hard to say with any certainty.

In a statement the Ministry of Commerce announced that substantive progress had been made on agriculture, intellectual property, the exchange rate and financial services, as well as trade cooperation, technology transfer and disputes settlement. It said that the two parties also discussed the follow-up arrangement for consultations and agreed to make joint efforts to achieve a final agreement.

This seems to have led some to conclude that the talks achieved no tangible outcomes.

But such terse statements are China's style. While the ministry made no mention of any agreement having been reached in the just-concluded discussions, it is clear that what US President Donald Trump called "agreements in principle" have been hammered out in the mentioned areas.

That the two sides have reached an accord is evident from the remarks made by US President Donald Trump and China's chief negotiator Vice-Premier Liu He during a news conference on Friday afternoon.

Both Liu and Trump said that the two sides have made substantial progress and confirmed that a concurrence has been reached on many issues.

And when he was asked whether this was an actual deal or progress toward a deal, Trump replied that it was a deal subject to getting everything down on paper for his and President Xi Jinping's signatures, which he was hopeful would happen when they meet in Chile in five weeks.

At no point did Liu object or deny any agreement had been reached.

It is safe to conclude the two sides have agreed with each other on some things, and that both sides are willing to sign off on these. And also that there are some issues that are still outstanding and they will continue to try and reach an agreement on these.

The difference lies in the US side calling the outcomes of the Washington talks an "agreement" right now, while the Chinese side will refrain from calling it that until what has been agreed has been signed into effect by Trump and Xi.

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