Biden Slams Trump-China Trade Deal as Lacking on Key Disputes
Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during the Second Step Presidential Justice Forum at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, U.S. (Photographer: Logan Cyrus/Bloomberg)

Biden Slams Trump-China Trade Deal as Lacking on Key Disputes

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden blasted the “phase one” trade deal with China that President Donald Trump is signing Wednesday as a loss for the U.S. that fails to make headway on the central issues of the trade dispute.

“China is the big winner of Trump’s ‘phase-one’ trade deal with Beijing,” the former vice president said in a statement to Bloomberg News. “True to form, Trump is getting precious little in return for the significant pain and uncertainty he has imposed on our economy, farmers, and workers.”

The deal “won’t actually resolve the real issues at the heart of the dispute, including industrial subsidies, support for state-owned enterprises, cybertheft, and other predatory practices in trade and technology,” Biden said.

The U.S. has agreed to halve 15% duties on $120 billion of imports and delay others in return for Chinese promises to make structural reforms and purchase an additional $200 billion in American goods and services over the next two years. Punitive tariffs are expected to remain on almost two-thirds of U.S. imports from China -- $360 billion in goods -- until at least the November presidential election. The full text will be released on Wednesday.

Biden said the steps the deal takes are “almost all vague, weak, or covered by previous announcements and existing agreements.” Because of that, he said, “it’s no wonder Trump doesn’t want the American people to see the text of the deal until after it’s signed.”

The agreement’s “fundamental problem,” he continued, is that it “preserves an economic relationship in which China maintains its illegal and unfair trade practices.” It pushes discussion of China’s state capitalism, industrial subsidies and state-owned companies, to future phases of trade talks, of which Biden is also skeptical. “No one should be fooled by Trump’s empty promises to deliver a meaningful ‘phase two’ deal,” he said.

If Biden is elected, he said, he will work with democratic allies to “set the rules of the road and push back on China’s aggressive and predatory behavior, instead of alienating and insulting our friends.” He will also push back on China’s human rights record while also cooperating with China on issues like climate change and nuclear nonproliferation.

“I have total confidence in the American people and our ability to compete — and win — against anyone, including China,” he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Also read: Biden Leads Democratic Field in Poll of Iowa Caucus Goers

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