U.S. and China to Hold Trade Talks, Chinese Commerce Ministry Says

China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng attends a news conference at the commerce ministry in Beijing, China, June 19, 2018. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

The United States and China have agreed to hold trade talks “in the coming days” to review the progress of the Phase 1 trade deal, the Chinese commerce ministry said on Thursday.

Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said in a weekly briefly held online that the two countries would meet to discuss the deal, which took effect six months ago, but did not offer more specific details on the meeting, Reuters reported. 

Earlier in the week, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows had said no new high-level trade talks were on the calendar, but that the countries remained in touch about carrying out the Phase 1 deal after President Donald Trump had postponed an Aug. 15 review of the trade pact over disappointment in Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I postponed talks with China. You know why? I don’t want to deal with them now,” Trump said during a briefing on construction of a border wall with Mexico. “What China did to the world was not even thinkable. They could have stopped (the virus).”

When asked by reporters on Tuesday if he would withdraw from the trade agreement with China, the president said, “We’ll see what happens.”

While the Jan. 15 deal was seen as a major step forward after a two-year long trade dispute, relations between the U.S. and China have grown increasingly tense due to the coronavirus pandemic and China’s new national security law in Hong Kong. Both countries have issued a series of threats and sanctions on individuals and businesses as a result. 

The deal set targets for China to greatly increase its purchases of U.S. farm and manufactured goods. While China’s purchases have increased as its economy has begun to recover from a coronavirus lockdown, data suggests China’s imports are not on track to meet the first-year target increase of $77 billion over 2017 purchases, Reuters reported.

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