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China, US to hold trade talks in coming days: China commerce ministry

China, US to hold trade talks in coming days: China commerce ministry

FILE PHOTO: Chinese and US flags flutter in Shanghai, China Jun 3, 2020. (REUTERS/Aly Song)

BEIJING: Beijing and Washington will soon hold a call on trade, China's commerce ministry said on Thursday (Aug 20), after reports that planned high-level talks on the "phase one" trade agreement between the two countries were postponed.

The US and China signed the accord in January, bringing a partial truce in their lingering trade war, and obliging Beijing to import an additional US$200 billion in American products over two years, ranging from cars to machinery to oil to farm products.

The phase one deal also called for officials to hold a "check in" every six months - but neither government has confirmed that the talks were planned or later postponed.

READ: Few US firms see Trump's Phase 1 China trade deal as worth tariff costs, survey shows

"The two sides have agreed to hold a call in the near future," Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said at a press briefing on Thursday when asked if trade talks would be rescheduled.

READ: In China, fears of financial Iron Curtain as US tensions rise

He didn't give any further details.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly were scheduled to hold a video conference with China's Vice Premier Liu He last weekend according to the reports, including from Bloomberg.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put pressure on the agreement and China's purchases of those goods has been lagging.

COMMENTARY: WeChat ban a formidable weapon in US-China trade war

US President Donald Trump in recent weeks has stepped up rhetoric against China ahead of what's expected to be a tough fight for a second term - with the election in November - raising questions about the deal's fate as well as the possibility of a phase two agreement.

Tensions before the two countries have risen in recent months over a host of issues including blame for the pandemic and China's policies in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

Source: Reuters/kv

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