News Article

US, China hold trade negotiations, agree to ‘push forward’ phase one agreement

Top negotiators from the US and China spoke on the phone and agreed to “push forward” their phase one economic plan, in the face of rising tensions between the two sides on many fronts.

In January, the US and China signed the accord putting a temporary truce in their ongoing trade war and obliging Beijing to import an extra US$200 billion in American products over two years, ranging from automobiles to machinery and oil to agricultural goods.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has placed pressure on the deal, and China’s purchases of those goods have been stalling.

In separate statements, the two countries confirmed the negotiations.

A Washington statement claimed that “the parties have taken measures that China has taken to incorporate the institutional improvements needed by the agreement.”

These reforms, it added, would “ensure greater protection for intellectual property rights, remove impediments to American companies in the areas of financial services and agriculture, and eliminate forced technology transfer”.

It added that both parties “see progress and are committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure the success of the agreement”.

Beijing said in its statement that a “constructive dialogue” between the two sides had “agreed to create conditions and atmosphere to continue to push forward the implementation of the phase one of the China-US economic and trade agreement”.

The phase one agreement required officials to hold a “check-in” every six months.

US President Donald Trump has stepped up his rhetoric against China in recent weeks ahead of what is supposed to be a brutal re-election campaign, raising concerns about the status of the negotiation as well as the prospect of phase two agreement.

Tensions between the two countries have increased over several matters, including blame for the pandemic and China’s policies in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

And news of the call came as TikTok – owned by Chinese parent company Bytedance – filed a lawsuit opposing the US government’s ban on the popular video app, that Washington accused of being a national security threat.

The Trump administration gave ByteDance a deadline to divest TikTok before the United States ban the app, arguing TikTok could be used by China to monitor the locations of federal employees, build dossiers on individuals for extortion, and perform corporate espionage.

The company says it has never supplied the Chinese government any US user data, and Beijing has denounced Trump’s crackdown as a political one.

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