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US trade groups urge China to increase purchases of US goods

07 July 2020

The US Chamber of Commerce and other trade associations urged top American and Chinese officials to renew their efforts to implement the Phase 1 trade agreement between China and the US.

The Phase 1 trade agreement was singed in January of 2020.

Reuters reports that the American trade associations urge both China and the US to meet the conditions of the agreement despite pandemic-related strains.

In a letter to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the groups said they were encouraged by the progress so far, but urged a significant increase in China's purchases of US goods and services.

They said combating the novel coronavirus pandemic and restoring global growth depended in part on successful implementation of the US-China trade deal, which helped defuse a nearly 18-month trade war marked by tit-for-tat tariffs.

The agreement called for China to purchase $200 billion in additional US goods and services over the next two years.

Jeremie Waterman, who heads the Chamber's China Centre, said some progress had been made on structural issues and purchases of farm goods, but China needed to step up its purchases of US manufactured goods, services and energy to meet its targets now that its economy was starting to recover from the pandemic.

"There are areas where we see less progress and where we think it's critical that both sides redouble efforts," Waterman said.

US-China tensions have spiked in recent months over the origins of the coronavirus outbreak and passage of a new national security law that limits Hong Kong's autonomy.

US President Donald Trump had said that "decoupling" the two economies remains an option, and his trade adviser Peter Navarro jolted markets last month when he said the US-China trade agreement was "over," although he quickly backtracked.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Monday the US president was considering several executive orders targeting China and manufacturing but gave no details.

Accelerated implementation of the trade deal would help both countries while paving the way for Phase 2 talks on other key issues.

"Amid increasing bilateral tensions across the relationship, working together to improve trade and grow commerce can provide important benefits to both economies and help to improve relations," they wrote in the letter.

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