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U.S. and China hold phone call on phase one trade agreement

Chinese and US national flags flutter at the entrance of a company office building in Beijing.

Wang Zhao | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators held a phone call Tuesday morning Beijing time about implementing the phase one agreement between the two countries.

The call came after a planned six-month review of the deal set for Aug. 15 was delayed to an unspecified date, and U.S. President Donald Trump subsequently claimed he postponed the talks. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin participated in Tuesday’s discussions, according to releases from both governments.

“The parties 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 Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in an online statement.

“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,” the office added.

Beijing’s statement did not include such specific details on the discussions. 

“The two sides conducted a constructive dialogue on such issues as strengthening bilateral coordination of macroeconomic policies and the implementation of the China-U.S. phase-one economic and trade agreement,” according to an official English-language version of the Commerce Ministry’s statement released by state media. 

“The two sides agreed to create conditions and atmosphere to continue pushing forward the implementation of the trade deal,” the state media report said.

Tensions between the world’s two largest economies have escalated over the last two years, beginning with a focus on trade and spilling over into technology and finance. The Trump administration has levied tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods, to which Beijing has responded with duties of its own.

In January, the two countries reached a phase one agreement on trade that called for increased Chinese purchases of U.S. goods and greater access to the Chinese financial market. 

However, bilateral tensions have only increased in the months since, amid the coronavirus pandemic and ahead of Trump’s bid for reelection in November. 

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