The United States will maintain tariffs on Chinese goods until the completion of a second phase of a United States-China trade agreement, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday, a day before the two sides are to sign an interim deal.
He also said that the Phase One deal will be fully enforceable, including a pledge by China to refrain from manipulating its currency.
Mr Mnuchin told reporters that President Donald Trump could consider easing tariffs if the world’s two largest economies move quickly to seal a follow-up agreement.
“If the president gets a Phase 2 in place quickly, he’ll consider releasing tariffs as part of Phase 2,” Mr Mnuchin said.
Mr Trump is slated to sign Phase 1 of the trade agreement with Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He at the White House on Wednesday at 11.30am.. Mnuchin told Fox Business Network that documents about the trade deal would be released on Wednesday.
China committed to purchase US$200 billion of additional US goods and services over the next two years under the agreement, he said, adding that US companies and farmers could reap further gains once structural reforms were tackled in a Phase Two agreement.
Concerns about the trade deal weighed on US stocks on Tuesday, sending shares lower after a Bloomberg report suggested US tariffs could remain in place until after the November presidential election.
New data showed that the costs of Mr Trump’s trade wars were proving more widespread, deeper and longer-lasting to American manufacturing competitiveness and jobs than previously believed.
Mr Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said earlier there was no agreement in place with China on further tariff reductions.
In a joint statement, they said all aspects of the Phase 1 trade deal with China would be made public on Wednesday, except a confidential annex that will detail US products and services to be purchased by China.
After the Phase 1 deal was reached last month, Washington agreed to suspend tariffs on US$160 billion in Chinese-made cellphones, laptop computers and other goods that were due to take effect on Dec 15, and to halve existing tariffs on US$120 billion of other goods to 7.5%. It kept in place 25% tariffs on US$250 billion of other Chinese goods.