There are still “very large challenges” in the trade and economic relationship between the United States and China that the Biden administration needs to accord attention to across the board, said the US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
She said this in an interview with the news agency Reuters prior to holding her first virtual call with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.
According to her office, she raised “issues of concern” at the meeting.
“During their candid exchange, Ambassador Tai discussed the guiding principles of the Biden-Harris administration’s worker-centered trade policy and her ongoing review of the U.S.-China trade relationship, while also raising issues of concern,” the USTR said.
The talks were described as “a candid, pragmatic and constructive exchange” by the commerce ministry of China. “Both sides view the development of bilateral trade as very important. (Both sides) exchanged views on issues of mutual concern and agreed to maintain communication,” the ministry said.
The meeting was the first formal interaction between the trade chiefs of the two largest economies of the world since Joe Biden assumed office as the US president in January. The3 meeting happe3nd in the backdrop of severe criticism by Biden of China over human rights abuses and urged the Group of Seven rich nation allies to present a united front on China.
The US and its allies are also festered by the manner in which China had handled the Covid-19 pandemic which has killed more than 3 million people globally so far.
The intelligence community was asked by Biden on Wednesday to investigate theories held by US intelligence agencies on the origin of the novel coronavirus which included the possibility of the virus being accidently leaked from a laboratory in China.
While supporting a ‘thorough investigation’, China has also warned the US from politicizing the issue.
Prior to the expiry of the Phase 1 deal on trade with China at the end of 2021, a comprehensive review of US-China trade policy is being done by the Biden administration.
While stating that the importance of the Phase 1 trade deal, Tai said in the interview that it was only a part of a large and complex relationship.
“The overall challenges that we have with China are also still there and they are very large,” Tai said.
It was important to view the Phase 1 trade deal in the context of “the overall U.S.-China trade, and economic relationship which is very, very challenging. And requires our attention all across the board,” Tai said.
A trade deal was signed between the US and China in January 2020 just before the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Under the deal, China was supposed to increase purchases of US agricultural goods, manufactured products, energy and services by $200 billion over 2020 and 2021 in relation to a 2017 baseline.
That deal also partially ended a two year long trade war between the two countries that was started by the former US president Donald Trump over alleged unethical trade practices by China.
(Adapted from ChannelNewsAsia.com)