Top US, Chinese officials optimistic on Phase 1 trade deal after phone call

China’s Vice Premier Liu He gestures to the media between US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (left) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin before the two countries’ trade negotiations in Washington, US, October 10, 2019. — Reuters pic
China’s Vice Premier Liu He gestures to the media between US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (left) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin before the two countries’ trade negotiations in Washington, US, October 10, 2019. — Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, Aug 24 — Top US and Chinese officials, who spoke by phone yesterday, see progress on resolving issues over the Phase 1 trade deal reached in January and both sides are committed to the success of the agreement, the US Trade Representative's Office said.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in a “regularly scheduled call,” USTR said in a statement.

The phone call was originally envisioned for August 15, six months after the trade deal was launched. But Trump, who has frequently expressed anger at China over the coronavirus pandemic, said last week he had postponed talks with China because “I don't want to deal with them now.”

“Both sides see progress and are committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure the success of the agreement,” USTR said.

China's commerce ministry, in a separate statement, confirmed that the two countries had a “constructive dialog” and agreed to continue pushing forward the implementation of the Phase 1 trade deal.

The USTR statement said the two sides “addressed steps that China has taken to effectuate structural changes called for by the agreement that will 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.”

“The parties also discussed the significant increases in purchases of U.S. products by China as well as future actions needed to implement the agreement,” it said.

Chinese purchases of US goods are running well behind the pace needed to meet a first year increase of US$77 billion (RM321.6 billion) specified in the deal, according to official data. But China has increased the pace of farm product purchases in recent weeks. — Reuters

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