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 following the origin of the coronavirus, the Ministry reported of Chinese Commerce.
Representatives of both countries spoke again on Friday by telephone after US President 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 should strengthen macroeconomic and public health cooperation, strive to create a favorable atmosphere and conditions to launch the first phase of the trade agreement and promote positive results,” the statement said.
Also, 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 in force a large part of the tariffs imposed 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 It agreed to cut in half, up to 7.5%, the tariffs imposed on Chinese imports worth 120 billion dollars 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 a “Chinese virus” after Chinese officials suggested the pathogen may have originated in US laboratories, and last week claimed the deal was something. ” secondary “compared to the pandemic.
Donald Trump also claimed investigations into how China handled the appearance of the coronavirus, and threatened the Asian country with tariffs after claiming to have seen evidence that allows him 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 this is not the time to start the investigations that the United States is claiming and considered “absurd and ridiculous” the claims 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.