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In this Sept. 16, 2018, file photo, American flags are displayed together with Chinese flags on top of a trishaw in Beijing. China's economy czar will visit Washington next week for the signing of an interim trade deal, the government said Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

China's economy czar will visit Washington next week for the signing of an interim trade deal, the government said Thursday.

Vice Premier Liu He, Beijing's chief envoy in talks with Washington over their tariff war, had been expected to attend the signing but the Commerce Ministry's statement was the first official confirmation.

Washington postponed planned tariff increases following the announcement of the "Phase 1" deal in October. But earlier punitive duties imposed by both sides on billions of dollars of each other's goods stayed in place, dampening global trade and threatening to chill economic growth.

Liu will lead a delegation to Washington from Monday through Wednesday, said ministry spokesman Gao Feng.

Under the "Phase 1" deal, Beijing agreed to buy more American farm goods and Washington's chief negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, said it would make changes to respond to complaints about its industrial policies. Details have yet to be announced and Chinese officials have yet to confirm any regulatory changes or the size of purchases of American soybeans and other exports.

 

Airbus adds 275 jobs at Alabama plant

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus will expand production at its plant on the U.S. Gulf Coast in Alabama, where it will spend $40 million to construct new facilities and add 275 jobs, the company said Thursday.

As part of a plan to build 63 aircraft in its A320 family of planes per month, Airbus said it would increase production at its factory in Mobile to seven airplanes monthly by early next year.

Airbus, which began producing aircraft in Mobile in 2015, employs about 1,000 people at the site assembling A220 and A320 models. The company added about 600 jobs in the city last year.

The expansion announcement, which puts Airbus on a pace to produce more than 130 aircraft annually in Alabama, came amid a tariff dispute.

A World Trade Organization panel ruled in December that the European Union had not complied with an order to end illegal subsidies for Airbus. The Trump administration imposed tariffs on nearly $7.5 billion worth of EU goods in October.

Airbus said it employs about 4,000 people at 38 locations in 16 U.S. states.

 

Mack Trucks cuts 305 factory jobs

Mack Trucks plans to lay off 305 employees at its assembly plant north of Philadelphia..

Mack blamed the layoffs on a downturn in the heavy-duty truck market. They will take effect at the end of February. The cuts represent about 13% of the plant's payroll.

"We regret having to take this action, but we operate in a cyclical market, and after two years of extremely high volumes, we have to adapt to reduced market demand," said Mack spokesman Christopher Heffner.

Employees, most of whom belong to the auto workers union, were informed of the news Wednesday.

The cuts were expected after Mack said last month that it would need to slow production to cope with reduced demand. Mack expects the North American truck market to be down nearly 30% this year.

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