U.S. and China sign phase one trade deal, but produce tariffs remain
The U.S. and China on Wednesday signed a much-anticipated "phase one" trade deal in Washington D.C.
But while the move marks an important de-escalation in the protracted trade war, it seems there will be no immediate tariff relief for U.S. produce exporters.
"We mark more than just an agreement. We mark a sea change in international trade," Trump said during a White House signing ceremony. "At long last, Americans have a government that puts them first."
The president agreed to relax some of the tariffs he imposed on Chinese imports. In exchange, Beijing has agreed to buy more U.S. products and make other changes.
However, U.S. fruit and vegetable exporters may have to wait until the "phase two" deal is signed before China lowers its tariffs, as there is no mention of those duties in this initial deal.
In 2018 the Asian country increased tariffs on numerous U.S. produce imports several-fold, effectively cutting off the market for many.
Western Growers' reaction
Western Growers board chairman Ryan Talley was at the White House for the signing. He said the association applauds the significant strides the Trump Administration has made in securing fairer deals for U.S. farmers with key trading partners around the world.
"On the heels of other recent trade gains with Japan, Mexico, and Canada, the phase one agreement represents constructive progress in the effort to rebalance our nation’s trade relationship with China," he said.
He noted that U.S. farmers have borne the brunt of the trade war with China. Overall U.S. exports of fruits, vegetables and tree nuts to China have declined by double-digits over the past two years.
But he said the organization is "optimistic" that with the completion of phase one and future completion of phase two, U.S. specialty crop farmers will be able to achieve expanded access to, and financial gain from the Chinese market.