“It’s a breakthrough,” Pillsbury said. “He says it’s historic. I certainly agree with that.”
Plans for announcing the deal, including whether an official text will be made public, remain in flux. The administration has said it does not intend to seek congressional approval of the agreement.
“The deal is essentially done. The mechanics of how you execute it and how you get it signed still have to be worked out,” said one person briefed on the White House’s deliberations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak to the media.
Still, a so-called “phase one” agreement would leave the thorniest issues in the U.S.-China trade dispute to future negotiations, which are scheduled to begin next year. China’s massive subsidies for state enterprises and its practice of forcing foreign companies to surrender technology secrets in return for access to the Chinese market will be the subject of “phase two” of the talks.