The agreement was signed on Wednesday

The US and China Wednesday signed a ‘phase one’ trade agreement that the Trump administration expects to boost exports from US farmers and manufacturers, protect American trade secrets and lower tension between the two countries in a nearly two-year long trade war, yet the bulk of the tariffs on some US$360bn in Chinese goods remain in place along with threats of additional punitive action unless continued talks produce a ‘phase two’ agreement.

Reaction around the US is mixed, given the unusual circumstances of an agreement that sees little actual immediate change, but was described by the New York Times as “underwhelming” but a “blueprint for progress,” while the Wall Street Journal expresses relief that the agreement has been reached, but laments that the unnecessary trade war was launched to begin with.

The Journal also reports that business leaders generally support the agreement but urge both sides to keep talking, quoting Thomas Donohue of the US Chamber of Commerce as saying: “We commend both governments for staying the course and taking this important step to rebuild trust and restore some stability in the world’s most important commercial relationship. This deal provides much needed certainty to American businesses as they begin the new year.”

For the recreational marine industry, many of the components parts imported for boat manufacturing remain in the grouping still under tariff, a point underlined in coverage by USA Today, which wrote: “Americans won’t get much of a financial reprieve from a limited trade deal signed with China on Wednesday, economists say, because while the truce helps consumers avoid the pain of further tariffs, it doesn’t erase all the earlier ones.”

From coverage and comments, it would seem the initial trade deal settles less than it leaves on the table with Reuters reporting the deal “fails to address structural economic issues that led to the trade conflict, doesn’t fully eliminate the tariffs that have slowed the global economy, and sets hard-to-achieve purchase targets,” and Politico concluding the deal “fails to address some of Beijing’s most egregious practices – the issues that sparked the trade war in the first place.”