South Dakota leaders praise US-China trade deal

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- The "I"s are dotted and the "T"s are crossed in ’Phase 1’ of the US-China trade deal.

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, after signing a trade agreement in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Under the agreement, China pledges to buy billions of dollars in agricultural products over the next few years. That’s a relief for South Dakota Farm Bureau President Scott Vanderwall, who says local farmers have been suffering.

“We’ve been waiting for about two years now since the tariff and trade war started with China," said Vanderwall. "Soybean prices declined about two dollars a bushel right after that happened.”

But, this phase of the deal is not a ‘final’ truce on trade. Critics argue the 86 page document leaves a lot unsaid.

Robert Scott with the Economic Policy Institute says he believes the effects won’t bring the economic boost that many are hoping for.

“The Chinese have left themselves some loopholes,” he said. “They said their purchases will depend on market conditions, that’s a big gray area.”

Questions remain on how the deal will be enforced. When facing tariffs in the past, Scott says, China has found a back-alley way to get U.S goods.

“There are U.S soybean exports that have gone to perhaps Hong Kong or Singapore that have ended up in China anyway.”

Despite these concerns, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem says, as the deal progresses she has faith in the administration to fight for an even playing field.

“I think our families across South Dakota and the country see this as a good thing,” said Noem.

As for ‘Phase 2’, President Trump says he’ll travel to China in the “not too distant future.” It’s unclear when the next phase of the agreement will be negotiated.

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