China, US agree to hold trade talks, Chinese commerce ministry says

BEIJING: China and the United States have agreed to hold trade talks “in the coming days” to evaluate the progress of their Phase 1 trade deal six months after it took effect in February, the Chinese commerce ministry said on Thursday.

Ministry spokesman Gao Feng made the comments at a weekly briefing held online, but did not elaborate.

They followed Tuesday’s remarks by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that no new high-level trade talks were scheduled, though both sides were in touch about implementing the Phase 1 deal.

The deal, reached on January 15, and seen as a major breakthrough after a two-year long trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies, set ambitious targets for China to sharply boost purchases of US farm and manufactured goods.

But ties quickly soured in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic and China’s imposition of a new national security law in Hong Kong.

Both sides traded threats and sanctions on individuals and businesses, such as Chinese video platform TikTok.

Official data also suggests China’s imports of US farm and manufactured goods, energy and services are well behind the pace needed to meet a first-year target increase of $77 billion over 2017 purchases.

China’s purchases have increased as its economy recovers from this year’s coronavirus lockdown, however.

On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump told reporters he had postponed an August 15 review of the trade pact, in frustration over Beijing’s handling of the virus pandemic.

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