China-US phase one deal on track amid COVID-19 concerns: expert Published: 2020/2/28 6:52:37

Photo: GT

China and the US have begun the phase one trade agreement as scheduled amid concerns over the deal's implementation and impact of the coronavirus epidemic, along with escalating tensions between the two countries in political and other areas, said a Chinese trade expert on Thursday. 

"Everything is in the process, though the US is not as fast as China is [in implementing the deal]," Gao Lingyun, with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and government trade negotiation adviser, told the Global Times, noting the US is eager to show results to its domestic audience.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a statement on implementation of the agreement, which was signed in January and went into effect on February 14. The statement included previous measures China had already made public.  

Among them include the removal of restrictions on some US imports, such as poultry products, chipping potatoes, pet food, and feed additives. China also announced tariff exemptions for a wide range of US products.

US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue hailed the progress. 

"We fully expect compliance with all elements of the deal," Perdue said in the statement, which did not include the US actions within the agreement.

Though Chinese officials have not released information on the progress made by the US according to the terms of the agreement, however, Washington cut 15 percent in tariffs worth $120 billion in Chinese products by half on February 14. 

Gao said more measures could follow. 

"There will definitely be [actions from the US]," Gao said, adding that Chinese officials would release the information later as the country is busy fighting the COVID-19 epidemic. 

After the coronavirus outbreak received national attention in January, the majority of the country has remained in a standstill due to strict epidemic control efforts. Meanwhile, in the US, concerns have been raised over China's ability to fulfill its commitment according to the deal, which includes a pledge to increase purchases of US products by $200 billion over the next two years. 

Some in China have also floated the idea of using a disaster-related clause in the deal as an opportunity to renegotiate. But Chinese officials have moved consistently in following the deal and have maintained that they will honor their commitments.

Compounding the issue is the political tension between China and the US stemming from US' overreaction to the epidemic and restricting Chinese media outlets on US soil.

Still, Gao said that the phase one deal is moving smoothly, and China will meet its commitment if the epidemic is reined in soon.

Posted in: ECONOMY

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