Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Monday he’s worried the “phase-one” trade deal President Trump struck with China does little to correct Beijing’s “rapacious trade behaviors” and may not compensate farmers for their losses amid the trade war.
The New York Democrat outlined his concerns in a letter that says failure to address China’s massive subsidies and cybertheft against U.S. companies will expose American workers and leave U.S. negotiators with a weak hand moving forward.
“From what I understand from reading press reports, the terms of the agreement will result in very little progress in reforming China’s rapacious trade behaviors and seems like it could send a signal to Chinese negotiators that the U.S. can be steamrolled,” Mr. Schumer wrote to Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump initially wanted one big agreement with China, though he later decided it would make sense to break it into parts. He says he’ll be able to dictate more favorable terms if talks stretch beyond 2020 and he wins reelection.
The initial deal, which will be inked at the White House on Wednesday, calls on China to buy $40 billion to $50 billion in U.S. farm products in exchange for some tariff relief. It also makes some changes to how China handles its financial services and U.S. companies’ intellectual property.
Mr. Schumer praised Mr. Trump’s get-tough approach to China for months but now says the president gave away too much. He’s also upset that administration officials decided not to label the Chinese as currency manipulators.
“By giving away leverage with a temporary deal of some reduced tariffs in exchange for American goods and vague promises of reform, as China has made time and time again, these structural issues will only become more challenging to address in future negotiations,” Mr. Schumer said.
He said the administration must figure out how to rein in Chinese subsidies that distort markets and undercut U.S. industries and its use of state-owned enterprises, or SOEs, that get preferential government treatment.
He also wants to know if agricultural commitments will make up for the market share farmers already lost amid the trade dispute, and if billions in bailout payments will be doled out more equitably in future rounds.
“If these issues go unresolved as part of this ‘phase one’ agreement, I urge you to ensure that specific and enforceable concessions are made going forward,” Mr. Schumer said. “Anything less would be a severe and irreparable loss for the American people.”
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