Monday, 25 May 2020

China, US commit to implement trade deal despite virus row

Reuters / File Photo

BEIJING: Chinese and US trade representatives agreed Friday to “create favourable conditions” for the phase one trade deal signed in January, officials said, despite recent tensions over the coronavirus pandemic.

Vice Premier Liu He, who had led Beijing’s negotiations, held a call in the morning with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“Both sides said they should strengthen macroeconomic and public health cooperation, strive to create a favourable atmosphere and conditions for the implementation of the phase one US-China economic and trade agreement, promoting positive results,” a notice from China’s Ministry of Commerce said.

US officials said after the call that both parties agreed “good progress” is being made on creating the governmental infrastructures needed to make the agreement a success.

“They also agreed that in spite of the current global health emergency, both countries fully expect to meet their obligations under the agreement in a timely manner,” said the Office of the US Trade Representative and Treasury in a statement.

The countries have also agreed to maintain communication and coordination.

The call is believed to be the first time they have officially spoken about the agreement since it was signed, and comes after both nations traded barbs over the deadly virus.

Last week, US President Donald Trump threatened new tariffs against China after claiming there was evidence linking COVID-19 to a top-security lab in the central city of Wuhan, where the pathogen first emerged late last year. China has denied the claims.

In January, Beijing agreed to import an additional $200 billion in US products over two years, above the levels purchased in 2017, marking a truce in a bruising trade war that had hammered the global economy for almost two years.

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