U.S. President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu signed “phase one” of the U.S.-China Trade Agreement in a ceremony at the White House. The phase one agreement marks a major step in efforts to rein in more than an 18-month trade war between the U.S. and China.

As a part of the new agreement, China has pledged to increase imports of American goods and services by at least $200 billion. China’s increase in United States imports will take place over the next two years, and the trajectory is expected to continue even after 2021. The commitment to purchase these U.S. goods includes $50 billion in farm products, $75 billion in manufactured goods, $50 billion in energy commodities and $40 billion to $50 billion in services, including financial services. The deal also has strong and enforceable agreements in the areas of forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft.


The two countries will start negotiating Phase Two of a trade agreement “as soon as this kicks in,” Trump said. He said 25% tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods will remain in place and that 15% tariffs on $300 billion of goods will be reduced to 7.5% as Phase Two negotiations take place. “I’m leaving them on because otherwise we have no cards to negotiate with,” the president said. “But they will all come off as soon as we finish Phase Two.” See the full text of Phase 1 here.

While the tariffs were not addressed specifically in the agreement, the United States Trade Representative did publish a Notice of Modification of Section 301 Action. This document states:

“In accordance with the direction of the President, the U.S. Trade Representative has determined to modify the action being taken in this Section 301 investigation by reducing the rate of additional duty on certain products of China from 15 percent to 7.5 percent.” The document states the reductions will be “Applicable as of 12:01 am Eastern Standard Time on February 14, 2020, the rate of additional duty will be 7.5 percent for products covered by Annex A of the August 20, 2019 notice.”

While it appears a decrease may occur, until a date is officially announced in the Federal Register Notice – the additional tariffs remain in effect. Changes to the Section 301 duty rates will not be programmed until after the official Federal Register Notice is posted providing instructions to CBP. We will continue to monitor the Federal Register for this change.

Sources: FreightWaves & CNBC