Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020

China, US to hold trade talks in coming days, says Beijing

BEIJING • China and the United States have agreed to hold trade talks in the coming days to evaluate the progress of their phase one trade deal six months after it took effect in February, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said yesterday.

Ministry spokesman Gao Feng made the comments at a weekly briefing held online, but did not elaborate.

The comments came after Tuesday’s remarks by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that no new high-level trade talks had been scheduled, though both sides were in touch about implementing the phase one deal.

The deal – which was reached on Jan 15 and was seen as a major breakthrough after a two-year-long trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies – set ambitious targets for China to sharply boost its purchases of US farm and manufactured goods.

But relations quickly soured in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic and China’s imposition of a new national security law in Hong Kong.

Both sides have traded threats and sanctions on individuals and businesses, such as Chinese video-sharing platform TikTok, in recent months.

Official data also suggests that China’s imports of US farm and manufactured goods, energy and services are well behind the pace needed to meet a first-year target increase of US$77 billion (S$105 billion) over 2017 purchases.

China’s purchases have increased as its economy recovers from its stringent coronavirus lockdown, however.

On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump told reporters that he had postponed an Aug 15 review of the trade pact, in frustration over Beijing’s handling of the virus pandemic.


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