Trump's 'Big' China Trade Deal Has Some Really Big Problems

The US-China Economic and Trade Agreement, described as a “phase one” deal, entered into force today (30 days after signature, pursuant to Article 8.3, para. 1). The Agreement has created a temporary tariff truce. For the time being, it seems that tariffs will not be raised further, and both sides lowered their retaliatory tariffs to some extent, which is good news.

But with all the talk of tariffs, it is easy to lose sight of the U.S. concerns about Chinese trade practices. How does the Agreement do in terms of addressing the purported basis for the trade war?

The trade war began with a Section 301 investigation and report by the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office on China’s “Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation.” Pursuant to the Agreement, China has agreed to undertake new obligations in these areas. Will these new obligations successfully address the concerns? In this blog post, we offer some preliminary observations on this question, based on the text of the Agreement. A full analysis will have to await China’s actions to implement the Agreement. (Under Article 1.35, “Within 30 working days after the date of entry into force of this Agreement, China will promulgate an Action Plan to strengthen intellectual property protection aimed at promoting its high-quality growth.”)

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