ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (Reuters) – No new high-level trade talks have been scheduled between the United States and China but the two sides remain in touch about implementing a Phase 1 deal, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday.
U.S. President Donald Trump earlier told reporters during a visit to Yuma, Arizona, that he had postponed an Aug. 15 review of the trade agreement signed with China in January given his frustration over Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I postponed talks with China. You know why? I don’t want to deal with them now,” Trump said during a briefing on construction of a border wall with Mexico. “What China did to the world was not even thinkable. They could have stopped (the virus).”
Meadows said the review, mandated as part of the trade agreement with China, had not been rescheduled, but U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer remained in regular contact with his counterparts in China about fulfilling its commitments.
“There are no rescheduled talks … at this point,” Meadows told reporters.
“Ambassador Lighthizer continues to have discussions with his Chinese counterparts involving purchases and fulfilling their agreements.”
Trump struck a non-committal tone when asked if he would pull out of the trade deal with China, saying, “We’ll see what happens.”
During visits to Arizona and Iowa on Tuesday, Trump expressed frustration about China’s handling of the health crisis and its failure to contain the disease, but he also lauded record purchases by Beijing of U.S. farm products.
China’s imports of U.S. farm and manufactured goods, energy and services are well behind the pace needed to meet a first-year target increase of $77 billion over 2017 purchases. But its purchases have increased as China’s economy recovers from a coronavirus lockdown earlier this year.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported the sale of 126,000 tonnes of soybeans to China, marking the eighth consecutive weekday with large sales to Chinese buyers. Crude oil sales have also increased.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Kim Coghill)