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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump is set to sign a trade deal with China on Wednesday that he will trumpet as a major victory, but it comes at a steep cost after a bitter two-year standoff between the world's two top economic powers.
"The hard issues between the United States and China are still outstanding," said Edward Alden, trade policy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.
But he acknowledged: "Politically, this does work pretty well for Trump" as he runs for re-election next year.
The White House can boast it has been "tough on China," and that "technically he's got a deal," something he promised voters in 2016, Alden said.
At the very least, the truce has reassured markets, roiled by constant upheaval in 2018 and 2019 amid threats, counter-threats and waves of tariffs.
The current ceasefire also could help Trump on the campaign trail by giving the American economy a boost.
As uncertainty eases, consumers would have greater reason to spend with confidence, and businesses might also move forward with investments that were put on hold over fears about how the conflict would play out.
Trump announced to great fanfare on New Year's eve that he would sign the "phase one" deal on January 15 in the White House.
But it was not until Thursday that the Chinese Ministry of Commerce confirmed the visit of Vice Premier Liu He, who will be in Washington from Monday to Wednesday.
Details of the scope of the agreement have remained a mystery, however.
"The whole document will be released Wednesday," Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, told reporters Friday.
There will be "a lovely ceremony," he added, preceded the night before by a formal dinner and followed by a lunch.
Kudlow dismissed criticism that the deal fell short of expectations, saying US negotiators won numerous concessions.
The White House has said the deal includes improvements on the technology transfers requirements that Beijing imposes on foreign companies, as well as better access to the Chinese market for financial services. -AFP
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