Sunday, January 24, 2021

China, US to hold rare trade talks


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When Chinese and US trade officials hold talks over the phase one trade agreement next week as reported, they will likely highlight the progress and emerging challenges in implementing the first major deal between the two countries since US President Donald Trump came to office, Chinese experts said.

The two sides remain committed to carrying out the hard-fought agreement amid a tumultuous period in bilateral ties; on the other side, however, the Covid-19 pandemic and actions taken by the Trump administration against China on a range of issues from the forced closure of its Houston consulate, to Hong Kong affairs, to the crackdown of Chinese tech firms, have posed serious hurdles to the agreement’s implementation, experts noted.

Under such a delicate situation, China will likely use this rare platform to reiterate its long-standing stance that the US must stop the aggressive rhetoric and behavior toward China, to create a better environment for the phase one deal and broader China-US cooperation, experts said.

They added that the US must cherish what they call the only area where the two sides still have room for cooperation, and avoid all-out confrontation.

Several US media reported on Wednesday that senior Chinese and US trade officials had agreed to hold a high-level meeting on August 15 to review the implementation of the phase one trade agreement, which was signed in mid-January and took effect on February 15.

The meeting via video link will be attended by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the Wall Street Journal reported.

No official announcement has been made by Beijing and Washington on the reported meeting. But Chinese experts who closely follow the talks said that the meeting will most likely take place, given that the agreement calls for such a review every six months.

“This is in the agreement… I think it shows that the two sides are still carrying out the deal, and is a positive sign,” Huo Jianguo, vice chairman of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday, adding that it is a good time for both sides to exchange views on both the agreement itself and broader cooperation in trade, given the rising risks.

Since the agreement took effect in mid-February, there have been a series of hurdles from the Covid-19 pandemic to the downward spiral in bilateral ties, which sparked doubts over the feasibility and willingness to carry out the agreement. Global Times



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