By Richard Rubin
WASHINGTON -- The U.S.-China trade deal marks a step toward integrating two economic systems, capping an important week for American trade policy, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said.
Mr. Lighthizer, President Trump's lead trade negotiator, on Sunday also praised the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement the House of Representatives is expected to approve this week.
"It was extremely momentous and indicative of where we're going, what this president has accomplished," Mr. Lighthizer said of advances in the two trade negotiations.
Mr. Lighthizer, appearing on CBS, described the China deal as encompassing more than agriculture, saying it has real enforcement mechanisms and provisions that address currency and financial services. But the limited deal leaves many disputed issues to later negotiations.
Subsequent phases of U.S.-China talks will depend on how the first phase is implemented and enforced, he said.
"It really is a remarkable agreement, but it's not going to solve all the problems," he said. "Whether this whole agreement works is going to be determined by who's making the decisions in China, not in the United States. If the hard-liners are making the decisions, we're going to get one outcome. If the reformers are making the decisions, which is what we hope, then we're going to get another outcome."
On USMCA, Mr. Lighthizer said the administration made a concession to Democrats on biologic drugs. The administration removed language that would have protected those expensive drugs from generic imitators for 10 years.
But he praised the enhanced enforcement of Mexican labor standards that helped bring Democrats on board.
"There's nothing about being against labor enforcement that's Republican, " he said.
The labor changes helped get Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) to back the trade deal, a first for him.
"This agreement, because we've got these labor standards that will lift workers up, makes sense," Mr. Brown said on CNN.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), described the deal as a capitulation to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and union leaders. He also said the deal would reduce cross-border North American trade in a misguided effort to reduce bilateral trade deficits.
"Unfortunately, USMCA is an exercise through all kinds of new provisions to diminish trade, and that's why I hope Republicans reconsider this," he said on NBC. "We have historically recognized we're all better off with more open markets."
Write to Richard Rubin at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 15, 2019 13:21 ET (18:21 GMT)
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