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US, China reach phase-one agreement in trade war

The U.S. and China said Dec. 13 they have agreed to the text of a phase-one deal to slow their trade war. The agreement includes plans to cancel scheduled U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods slated to go into effect in two days.

In a press conference, China's Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen said the two countries have made major progress in recent talks, leading to a U.S. promise to roll back its tariffs on Beijing on a phase-by-phase basis.

Shortly after the Chinese announcement, President Donald Trump tweeted that his administration will not impose 15% tariffs on $160 billion of Chinese goods slated to go into effect Dec. 15, while adding that already-imposed tariffs will remain in place. The batch of canceled tariffs was going to hit a bevy of consumer goods like laptops, toys and video games at the height of the holiday shopping season.

"We have agreed to a very large Phase One Deal with China," Trump tweeted.

Trump also said that negotiations on a "phase two deal" will begin "immediately," while adding that China has agreed to "massive" purchases of agricultural products, energy and manufactured goods, though Beijing has historically not followed through on such claimed commitments.

In a statement, the U.S. Trade Representative's Office said that the U.S. would maintain 25% tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods as well as 7.5% tariffs on roughly $20 billion of separate products. The trade office also said that the agreement establishes a "strong" dispute resolution system that "ensures prompt and effective implementation and enforcement."

Beijing said the phase-one agreement is still subject to legal review and other procedures, though Chinese officials said they hoped it could be completed "as quickly as possible." The deal has yet to be signed by the two countries.

The U.S. and China have been entrenched in a crippling trade war for roughly a year and a half that has upended supply chains, spiked production prices for U.S. companies operating in and selling to China and left U.S. farmers reeling from Beijing's retaliatory tariffs.

Hundreds of billions of dollars of goods from industries including energy, consumer, technology, manufacturing and agriculture have been subject to increased tariffs, though a partial deal was reached in October that postponed a scheduled spike in tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods to 30% from 25% and included a promise by Beijing to purchase between $40 billion and $50 billion of U.S. farm goods.

Negotiators have remained engaged to reach a deal that would please both sides. The Trump administration has called for Beijing to up its purchases of U.S. farm goods while also curbing its intellectual property rights issues and forced technology transfer mandates for foreign companies doing business there that sparked the trade war.

Markets were cautiously optimistic on the news out of China.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 85.09 to 28,217.14 at 10:25 a.m. ET, while the S&P 500 was up 7.21 to 3,175.78. However, stocks began to fall following Trump's tweet.