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Top China negotiator to sign 'phase 1' trade deal in U.S. next week

Shoppers eat at a fast food restaurant in Beijing, China, on December 28. The Chinese government said Thursday its chief negotiator will travel to Washington, D.C., next week to sign the first phase of a new trade deal with the United States. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
Shoppers eat at a fast food restaurant in Beijing, China, on December 28. The Chinese government said Thursday its chief negotiator will travel to Washington, D.C., next week to sign the first phase of a new trade deal with the United States. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 9 (UPI) -- China's top trade negotiator will travel to Washington, D.C., next week to sign the first phase of a new agreement with the United States, Beijing's commerce ministry said Thursday.

Vice Premier Liu He, who has led negotiations for China during the long-running dispute, will lead a trade delegation on the trip, spokesman Gao Feng said.

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Liu, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, will stay in Washington until Wednesday to finalize the deal. Gao said both sides are "in close contact" in making final arrangements.

The deal is expected to remove billions of dollars worth of tariffs and increase Chinese investments in U.S. energy and agricultural products.

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The United States and China agreed to "phase one" of the agreement last month, and U.S. President Donald Trump said on Dec. 31 that portion of the pact would be signed at the White House on Jan. 15. He added that he will next travel to Beijing to work on the next phase of a trade agreement.

The U.S.-China trade conflict began more than a year ago and has been punctuated periodically by new tariffs from both governments -- efforts to force each other to the bargaining table and accept favorable terms.

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China more than doubled its purchases of U.S. soybeans between October and November as a goodwill move, while the Trump administration agreed to hold off on imposing new tariffs that were set to take effect last month. China said it would lower tariffs for hundreds of U.S. imports as part of the proposed deal.

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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the text of the deal, which has not yet been revealed, will be made public after it's signed next week.

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