Schumer Floor Remarks On President Trump’s Weak “Phase One” Agreement With China

January 15, 2020

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today on the Senate floor outlined the flaws in the reported “phase one” agreement between the Trump administration and China ahead of its signing ceremony today. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Later this morning, the president is expected to take part in a signing ceremony for the so-called phase one trade agreement with China. Now, I have commended the president for his instincts when it comes to China. His instincts were at one point to be strong and tough. I have compared his stances favorably to previous administrations. I was rooting for the president to succeed for the sake of jobs, and wealth, and economy in this country. And I’ve told them that personally.

So this “phase one” deal is an extreme disappointment to me and to millions and millions of Americans who want to see us make China play fair. President Trump's phase one trade deal with China is a historic blunder.

Several harmful policies and practices are reportedly unaddressed.

First, there appear to be no commitments to end China government's subsidy program that continues to hurt U.S. industries and workers, at all levels.

Second, there appear to be no commitments to reform the Chinese policy of state-owned enterprises that unfairly compete with American enterprises and take American jobs away while they're allowed to freely sell here while our best companies can't sell there.

Third, there appear to be no commitments to curtail the illegal dumping of Chinese products into our markets, which puts American firms out of business and workers out of a job.

Fourth, glaringly, there appear to be no significant commitments to definitely end China's predatory and flagrant cybertheft of American intellectual property, which has stolen a generation of American jobs and American wealth.

Fifth, concerning what the deal achieves in terms of agricultural purchases, it appears the Trump administration has not addressed the fact that China has existing contracts with countries like Brazil and Argentina. They don't need any more of our products, certainly not the amount that's been talked about. And the agreement does not grapple with the fact that American farmers have already lost billions, watched their markets disappear, and gone bankrupt in the time it took the president to reach the deal.

Reading the reporting of phase one of the trade deal feels like watching a bad re-run of the past ten years of botched trade negotiations with China. I fear that President Xi is laughing at us about it behind our backs for having gained so much at our expense. The United States concedes our leverage and in exchange China makes vague, unenforceable promises it never intends to fulfill.

We’ve seen this over and over again. China agrees to something and they don't do it. President Trump complained about President Obama and President Bush and others when they signed these deals and nothing happened, and he's doing the same darn thing. Same darn thing, and it's no wonder they haven't made it public. They are afraid that when people actually read it they'll see that it's not good for America, that the Chinese took us hook, line and sinker.

If I sound frustrated and angry, it's because I am. Even today, an hour before the deal is signed before the president, I have to use phrases like “appear to” and “according to reports” because the administration has shrouded the details of the agreement in secrecy and kept the text of the deal under lock-and-key.

The Trump administration doesn't want the details of the agreement to come out before they can spin it because it knows once the details come out, everyone will see China has taken President Trump to the cleaners.

President Trump, the great negotiator, has been totally out-negotiated by President Xi. Just like on impeachment, the president and his team are afraid of the truth. They don't want anyone to see the facts or the truth, they just want to spin.

If the Trump administration were proud of this deal, they'd hold it up to the world and shout it from the mountaintops. Instead they've kept it hidden. They want to spin it but they can't spin away the fact that this deal is a bad deal for American workers, American companies, American jobs, and American wealth. Even today, the day the agreement is signed, we've been told we may not get all the details.

Given the absurd secrecy surrounding President Trump's phase one trade deal, I expect once everyone gets a chance to take a look at it in the light of day, they'll find that the administration has signed one of the most tragically one-sided agreements in recent memory. Even the farmers, President Trump sold out the structural changes to try and help the farmers. When they look at the specifics, they are going to see they are a lot less than meets the eye and that our farmers will continue to suffer.

There was an opportunity here to secure real reforms to China's rapacious trade and industrial policy. President Trump may have just squandered it indefinitely, a severe and potentially irreparable loss for the American people, American businesses, and American workers. And given how poorly trade one deal was executed with China I have no faith that trade deal two, if it ever comes about, will be any better. In fact, most Americans should fear it if it is anything like this one. 

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