- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 31, 2019

President Trump said Tuesday that he’ll sign “phase one” of a trade deal with China on Jan. 15 at the White House and will travel to Beijing later in the year for talks on a larger agreement.

“I will be signing our very large and comprehensive Phase One Trade Deal with China on January 15,” Mr. Trump tweeted on the last day of 2019. “The ceremony will take place at the White House. High level representatives of China will be present.”

He added, “At a later date I will be going to Beijing where talks will begin on Phase Two!”

Earlier, the two sides had said the signing would take place in early January, but a date and location hadn’t been set.

Mr. Trump talked earlier of a signing ceremony with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but the South China Morning Post reported Monday that Vice Premier Liu He, a top negotiator in the talks, will head a delegation to Washington to sign the trade deal. China’s official press has made no mention of a Trump visit in 2020, and many trade experts predict that future trade deals, focusing on much more contentious issues for Beijing, could be much harder to reach.

U.S. stock markets, which have risen and fallen on Mr. Trump’s previous tweets on the state of the talks, were essentially flat in light early trading Tuesday.

Mr. Xi, in his traditional year-end address to the nation Tuesday, did not mention the U.S. trade deal in his summary of 2019 or his preview of the year to come.

China and the U.S. have been locked in a trade war with escalating retaliatory tariffs for nearly two years. Beijing announced in early December it would resume large-scale purchases of U.S. agricultural products as the two sides neared an initial agreement.

While U.S. stock markets have enjoyed a strong year, farmers and ranchers have taken a big hit from the loss of the Chinese market and have received tens of billions of dollars in bailouts from the federal government.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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