US-China trade war: both sides cling to phase one deal as wider relationship crumbles

US-China trade war: both sides cling to phase one deal as wider relationship crumbles

  • US President Donald Trump needs China to keep buying farm goods covered under the phase one trade deal to stand a chance at re-election in November, an analysis shows
  • ‘Beijing wants to keep the trade deal alive at all costs’ to stop broader ties with the United States from completely collapsing, economic consultancy says

Polite boilerplate statements from both sides marked the first high-level trade talks between the United States and China since the signing of the phase one trade deal in January, reiterating the fact that trade is the only remaining area of constructive dialogue in the crumbling superpower relationship.

Lead negotiators Vice-Premier Liu He on the Chinese side, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer on the American side, spoke in a delayed telephone call on Tuesday morning Chinese time.

A statement from the Office of the USTR – which initially misspelled Liu He’s name – said that “both sides see progress and are committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure the success of the agreement”.