China and the United States pledged today, in a telephone conversation, to continue implementing the first phase of the trade agreement They signed on January 15, despite the latest tensions between the two countries over the origin of the coronavirus, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce reported.
Representatives of both countries spoke again on Friday by telephone after the president of the United States, Donald Trump, threatened this week to abandon phase one of the agreement “if China does not buy the promised volume of American products”.
Chinese Vice Prime Minister Liu He, who heads China’s negotiating table, spoke today with United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, according to a statement from the aforementioned ministry.
“The two parties declared that they must strengthen macroeconomic cooperation and in the area of public health, strive to create an atmosphere and favorable conditions to launch the first phase of the trade agreement and promote positive results, “the statement said. Likewise, both parties agreed to “maintain communication and coordination” in this regard, according to the note.
On January 15, the United States and China signed a preliminary agreement that, nevertheless, kept much of the tariffs in effect taxes in the preceding months. All in all, the Asian giant pledged to buy US goods worth about $ 200 billion in two years, including $ 50 billion in agricultural products, $ 50 billion in energy and $ 75 billion in manufacturing.
For its part, the USA agreed cut in half, up to 7.5%, tariffs imposed on Chinese imports of $ 120 billion and to cancel additional taxes. The agreement also opened the door to a second round of negotiations to tackle more thorny issues such as forced technology transfer, intellectual property, expansion of trade, the establishment of mechanisms for the resolution of disputes or the opening of Chinese financial markets. .
Despite the fact that the agreement allowed both countries to enjoy a few months of apparent cordiality, the appearance of the coronavirus once again soured the relationship between the two powers.
In March, Trump began labeling the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus as «Chinese virus» after of Chinese officials suggesting that the pathogen may have originated in US laboratories, and last week claimed the deal was “secondary” compared to the pandemic.
Donald Trump too claimed investigations on how China handled the appearance of the coronavirus, and threatened the Asian country with tariffs after claiming to have seen evidence that allows it to affirm that the pathogen originated in a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, something that Beijing denies.
The US president again blamed the Chinese government for the virus, noting that Beijing could have stopped it but chose to let it spread throughout the world.
For his part, the Chinese ambassador to the UN in Geneva said Thursday that it is not the time to start the investigations that the United States claims and considered “Absurd and ridiculous” allegations that China withheld information from the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as threats that compensation for damages to the global economy will be claimed.