Trump approves ‘mini-trade deal’

Screenshot from Bilibili’s May Fourth Movement propaganda film.

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“President Donald Trump has signed off on a mini-trade deal with China, two people familiar with the negotiations said,” Politico reports.

The tentative agreement, which Trump refers to as “phase one” deal, codifies what was agreed to in principle in October. It will require China to significantly increase its purchases of U.S. agricultural goods, open its financial services sector and enact new intellectual property protections.

In exchange, Trump will cancel a 15 percent tariff that was scheduled for Sunday, people briefed on the matter said. The president is also expected to reduce duty rates already in place on about $250 billion worth of goods, including many consumer items such as footwear, clothing and flat panel TVs…

Three people briefed on the talks said Trump was partially swayed to close a deal by a Chinese offer to purchase $200 billion worth of U.S. goods and services over a period of two years. That includes a previous demand to boost imports of U.S. farm goods to between $40 billion and $50 billion within the same period. The U.S. had made that demand as far back as May 2018.

Other stories from various fronts of the U.S.-China techno-trade war, day 524:

“Tariffs slapped by China on U.S. products cost the most affected communities billions of dollars in lost auto sales in 2018 as the hit to local incomes undercut household spending, according to an analysis released on Wednesday by the National Bureau of Economic Research,” reports Reuters.

The State Department “is beginning to articulate a sharper idea of what the U.S. is against in the Indo-Pacific — and, more importantly, what it is for,” reports Bloomberg (porous paywall).

The guiding concept: “Pluralism.” That may not sound very sexy, but it captures the essential difference in U.S. and Chinese visions for the region. And, significantly, it taps into three of the richest historical traditions of American grand strategy.

David Stillwell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, explained this strategy of pluralism in a speech in Washington last week. The basic idea is that the U.S. doesn’t need to dominate the Indo-Pacific or force the region to conform to any single model, so long as no one else can dominate the region or make it conform to a single model, either.