US trade groups urge China to increase purchases of goods and services

The US Chamber of Commerce and over 40 trade associations on Monday urged senior US and Chinese officials to redouble their efforts, despite the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, to implement the first phase (Phase 1) of the trade agreement, which was signed by the two largest economies of the world in January of this year.

In a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Liu He, the group said they were encouraged by the progress made so far, but called for a significant increase China’s procurement of US goods and services.

The groups said the fight against the new coronavirus pandemic and the restoration of global growth depended in part on the successful implementation of a trade deal between the US and China, which helped ease the tensions in the nearly 18-month trade war, accompanied by the imposition of reciprocal tariff sanctions.

Tensions between the United States and China in recent months have escalated due to allegations of the origin of the coronavirus, as well as China’s adoption of a new national security law that critics say will limit Hong Kong’s autonomy.

US President Donald Trump said the “separation” of the two economies is still being considered as an option, and his trading adviser Peter Navarro caused market turmoil last month when he said that trading the agreement between the United States and China “ended”, although he instantly denied his statements.

On Monday, the head of the White House apparatus, Mark Meadows, said the US president was reviewing several orders regarding China and manufacturing, but had not provided any details.

The U.S. Chamber and other industrial groups urged both sides to expedite the implementation of the trade agreement, saying it would help both countries, while paving the way for second-stage negotiations on other key issues such as subsidies, cybersecurity and digital commerce.

“Against the backdrop of growing bilateral tension in relations, working together to improve trade and develop commercial activities can greatly benefit both economies and help improve relations,” they wrote in a letter.