Trump Cancels Trade Talks with China Due to ‘Kung Flu’ Covid Crisis

Trump: “I don’t want to deal with it now – with what they did to this country and the world, I don’t want to talk to China right now.” 

US President Donald Trump said at a press conference in Yuma, Arizona, that China’s handling of the coronavirus was ‘unthinkable.’

The phase-one trade deal between the US and China, which came into force in February, had called for discussions on the implementation of the agreement every six months. The Chinese Vice Premier, Liu He, was supposed to hold a private video conference call with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, but at the last minute, it was postponed indefinitely.

China pledged to spend more than €190bn on US goods and services, while the US lowered tariffs on Chinese imports. image: Twitter

While China seems to be making many of the structural changes it promised on issues such as intellectual property protection (copyright), its purchases of US goods are well below where they need to be to meet promised targets, and there’s almost no chance they can be fulfilled now with the damage Covid-19 has done to the global economy. Business leaders worry that a collapse of the deal risks leading to a return of the tit-for-tat tariff war that cost billions and hurt trade and companies around the world.

Charles Freeman, senior vice president for Asia at the US Chamber of Commerce: “The phase one trade deal has been the bright spot in the relationship, I’m certain the president looks at the election and equity markets and realises that as challenging as it might be to get the commitments implemented by China that his folks have engineered, it probably would be worse to just scrap the deal entirely.”

Asked if the US would pull out of the phase-one deal, Trump said: “We’ll see what happens.” Terminating the deal would require written notification and take effect 60 days later unless both parties agree on a different date.


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Tony Winterburn

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