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Letter: Public should gain access to China trade agreement

The 86-page comprehensive Phase One Trade Agreement with China is to be signed by President Trump at the White House on Wednesday. The signed agreement is binding and does not require congressional approval.

This agreement includes a commitment from China to buy $200 in U.S. goods, and at least $40 billion in agriculture products.

Most assuredly, this agreement will impact numerous businesses locally and nationally. The agreement will focus on (partial listing): intellectual property, trade secrets, and pirated goods; technology transfer; agriculture/farm goods and seafood; financial services, banking, insurance, securities and credit rating services; currency, foreign exchange, unfair trade practices, commitment from China to import various U.S. goods and services; and resolution of disputes to ensure effective implementation of the agreement.

This agreement, the first of several proposed trade agreements with China, has been characterized as being of historical significance. The agreement was approved on Dec. 13, 2019 by the Office of U.S. Trade Representative. However, with but a few days remaining before signing, “no text is publicly available” (Bob Davis, Senior Editor, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 31, 2019).

On Sunday, administration officials said “…that details of the Phase One deal would be released after the agreement is signed on Wednesday.”

This author is critical of the fact that the final mark-up and translation has yet to be completed. Would it not be reasonable to have the document available several months ago to enable all persons (e.g., lawmakers, stakeholders and public) to undertake a critical review and make an informed assessment of the merits of this adventure before the agreement is enacted?

John Pauly, Ph.D.


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