U.S.-China trade deal will hold for now, former Trump trade negotiator says



Eustance Huang|Yen Lee|CNBC News

The trade deal inked by Washington and Beijing is likely to hold for now, according to former top White House trade negotiator Clete Willems.

“I think the reason the deal is gonna hold for the time being is that China’s actually doing a good job at implementation,” Willems, a former deputy director at the National Economic Council, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Tuesday.

The two economic powerhouses signed a phase one trade deal in January following a protracted period of tensions that saw both parties slapping punitive tariffs on each other’s goods.

“From an election standpoint, this deal remains a winner for the (U.S. President Donald Trump) because he was able to get China to make certain commitments that others have failed to do and the U.S. really didn’t … give up much in exchange,” Willems said, in reference to the U.S. presidential election in November. “They kept almost all of the tariffs in place. So, it still allows the president to say he’s tough and he got a deal.”

Relations between Beijing and Washington have soured in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, as the countries feud over the origins of the virus and how each could have better handled the crisis. The two have also bickered over Beijing pushing a national security law for Hong Kong and Washington threatening to delist Chinese companies from U.S. exchanges.

“You have to look at the broader range of all the U.S. policy on China,” Willems said. “I think investors are not as concerned about that as they should be.”

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