China and US chief trade negotiators hold talks, agree to push for phase one deal

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/25 11:01:30

China US Photo: GT


Chinese Vice Premier Liu He held a call with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday at the latter’s invitation, and the two sides had “constructive” dialogue over the phase one deal and other topics, agreeing to create better conditions for their implementation, Xinhua reported on Tuesday morning.

The call was originally scheduled for August 15 but was delayed. US President Donald Trump later said he had canceled the talk.

The two sides had constructive dialogue on how to strengthen bilateral coordination on macroeconomic policies, and on implementation of the phase one economic and trade agreement. The two sides also agreed to create conditions and an atmosphere conducive to pushing forward the implementation of the trade deal, according to Xinhua.

Song Guoyou, director of Fudan University's Center for Economic Diplomacy, said the call sent a positive signal to the world.

“The delayed China-US call being held at last shows that China and US trade and economic cooperation centered around the trade deal is to be continued,” said Song.

“[The call] shows both sides still have enough will to continue to implement the phase 1 trade deal,” Song noted.

In addition to the protection of intellectual properties, the opening-up of China’s financial sectors and the so-called issues around technology transfers, “the parties also discussed the significant increase in purchases of US products by China, as well as future actions required to implement the agreement,” according to a press release posted on the website of the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, noted that, judging from the information in the news release, the subtext of both sides agreeing to foster an atmosphere conducive to the implementation of the trade deal could be positive news for Huawei, which is currently under attack from the Trump administration. 

As the US presidential election nears, the Trump administration has escalated its crackdown on Chinese technology companies in addition to its efforts at decoupling.

Notably, the administration’s attacks on Chinese short-form video platform TikTok and social messaging app WeChat have drawn broad criticism both abroad and within the US. However, experts have hinted that one Chinese tech company that might be involved in the trade deal talk is Huawei, not TikTok or WeChat, as the latter pair do not technically involve trade.  

The trade deal requires China to buy $77.7 billion of US manufactured goods within two years. 

“Whether or not the US eases its purchase ban order on Huawei is related to the phase one trade deal’s implementation. The Chinese telecommunications giant alone purchases about one third of all Chinese imports of US manufactured goods,” Gao added.

Huawei was purchasing tens of billions of dollars’ worth of US products in this regard, prior to the US banning it from doing so. 

The US side badly wants the deal to move forward and for China to implement the deal, said Gao, who has been closely following the trade negotiations. “This is one of the few existing presentable talking points the Trump administration can use to appeal its supporters.”

Gao noted that the deal, according to its text, can be dissolved automatically within 60 days at one side’s request. “The deal is made precious by the strained ties between China and the US, as in that both countries - the government and the people - can accept it.”

China has been ramping up purchase of US agricultural, and especially energy products in recent months. 

Global Times

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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