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China-US discussion on trade called positive sign

By JING SHUIYU in Beijing and ZHAO HUANXIN in Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2020-05-09 06:34
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China's Vice-Premier Liu He gestures to the media between US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (L) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin before the two countries' trade negotiations in Washington, October 10, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He spoke by phone with United States trade officials on Friday morning, sending a signal that bilateral cooperation may be cemented while a full-scale decoupling is "really unlikely," a prominent expert said.

In the call between Liu, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, both nations said China and the US should strengthen cooperation in macroeconomy and public health, and strive to create favorable conditions for implementing the phase-one trade deal that they inked in mid-January.

The two parties agreed to maintain communications on key issues, according to the statement released by the Ministry of Commerce.

China and the US have not completely resolved all their trade disputes despite the phase-one pact. The novel coronavirus outbreak further complicated the issue.

Nevertheless, one expert said a full decoupling of the world's top two economies is "really unlikely", and an escalation of tensions between China and the US would have additional global effects during and after the pandemic.

"I do not think, though, that in the short term we are going to see what people are calling a full-scale decoupling of the two economies. I think that's really unlikely," said Scott Kennedy, senior adviser and trustee chair in Chinese business and economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"Because American businesses don't want to do that, and America's trading allies don't want to do that. So if the US continues to push down this front, what's most likely is an isolated US, not an isolated China," Kennedy told reporters during a teleconference on Thursday.

China has remained committed to the phase-one deal. On April 23,China's Ministry of Commerce said that the two countries should take the opportunity to fulfill the trade agreement, which also would enhance cooperation and remove destabilizing factors.

In the first four months, China imported 256.18 billion yuan ($36.21 billion) in US goods, Chinese customs officials said. They dropped 3 percent on a yearly basis, but it was less than the 3.2-percent drop in the nation's overall imports.

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