China, US to hold phase one trade deal talks ‘in the coming days’: Official

Gao Feng, spokesperson of China's Ministry of Commerce, gestures during the ministry's press conference in Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 22, 2019. China's Ministry of Commerce Thursday urged the United States to correct its faulty practices in anti-subsidy probes against Chinese products after the World Trade Organization (WTO) recently again ruled that U.S. countervailing measures were inconsistent with WTO rules. (Xinhua/Jin Liangkuai). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BEIJING, Aug 20, 2020, SCMP. China and the United States will hold trade talks in the coming days to review the progress in meeting the terms of the phase one trade deal, China’s Ministry of Commerce said, South China Morning Post reported.

“The two sides have agreed to hold a call in the coming days,” said spokesman Gao Feng on Thursday when asked when the talks would be held.

The US and China were reportedly due to hold talks last Saturday to review the implementation of the deal.

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he postponed the talks because he is unhappy with China over the handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Vice-Premier Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had been expected to review the progress of the deal at the weekend, with a semi-annual review agreed when the two sides signed the deal at the White House in January.

On Wednesday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said the review had not been rescheduled, but that Lighthizer remained in regular contact with his Chinese counterparts about fulfilling the commitments of the deal.

China promised to buy more American goods as part of the phase one deal, including US$77 billion this year, with a goal of raising the value of purchases by US$200 billion compared with 2017 levels.

But Beijing has fallen behind the commitment because of the coronavirus pandemic and inflamed tensions with Washington.

US official data and industrial data, though, show that China has increased its purchases of agricultural and energy products in recent months.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce dismissed suggestions that China has curbed overseas shipments of rare earth exports in July as a countermeasure against the US.

China exported 1,620 tonnes of rare earth elements last month, a drop of 69.1 per cent from a year earlier and down 44 per cent from June, according to Chinese customs data.

Rare earth exports to the US dropped 35.2 per cent from a year earlier to 5,184 tonnes in the first half of the year, according to data from the China Rare Earth Industry Association.

Chen Zhanheng, a deputy general secretary at the China Rare Earth Industry Association, an industry group of domestic rare earth companies, had already dismissed rumours about whether China was weaponising rare earths trade.

“Since the beginning of this year, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the production and operation activities of downstream rare earth enterprises have slowed down,” Gao added.

“Chinese companies carry out international trade business based on changes in international market demand and risk conditions.”

China’s commerce ministry also hit back at the US ban on Chinese-owned mobile app TikTok, saying the move is based on groundless charges and that it seriously violates the basic principle of the market economy.

“This is not good for China, not good for the US and not good for the whole world,” Gao said.

Trump issued an executive order on August 6, according to which “any transaction” between an American citizen and ByteDance – the Chinese owner of short video hit TikTok – will be outlawed in 45 days for national security reasons. Trump also applied the order to Tencent’s WeChat.

“We once again urge the US side to abandon its wrongdoings, stop unwarranted suppression of Chinese companies, and do more things that are conducive to the economic and trade cooperation and the people’s welfare of the two countries,” Gao added.

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