WASHINGTON: The Biden administration will revisit the phase one trade agreement signed with China last year, a senior official said on Monday, asserting that the US Trade Representative will soon resume direct engagement with her Chinese counterpart to outline a new approach to the bilateral relationship.
In January last year, the US signed the first phase of the trade deal with China, which former president Donald Trump described as historic, concluding more than a year of tough negotiations including several months of suspension of talks between the two largest economies of the world.
The agreement was signed by Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Politburo Member and Vice Premier of China.
The first phase of the trade deal includes Intellectual Property (IP) Protection and Enforcement, ending forced technology transfer, dramatic expansion of American agriculture, removing barriers to American financial services, ending currency manipulation, rebalancing the US-China trade relationship and effective dispute resolution.
US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai is scheduled to deliver a major policy address on this issue later in the day.
“We will revisit the phase one agreement and emphasize that China must follow through on the commitments it has made. “Second, we will start a targeted tariff-exclusion process. We will also keep open the potential for additional exclusion processes in the future,” the senior administration official said ahead of her speech.
“Third, in the coming days, Ambassador Tai will resume direct engagement with her counterpart in China. This will include discussions with China regarding its commitments under phase one, but it will also be a chance for Ambassador Tai to reiterate that the United States will defend itself, using all available tools, from state-directed industrial policies that harm our workers, producers, and overall economic interests,” the official said.
According to the official, the Biden administration will work with its allies and like-minded partners towards building an international trading system that is fair and allows for healthy competition.
“Some of that work is underway already. The Boeing-Airbus deal, struck in June of this year, is just one example of how this commitment to work with our allies creates more opportunities for American producers. Ambassador Tai will share how we are building global coalitions to accomplish our shared priorities,” said the official.
In her remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to outline the new approach to the US-China bilateral trade relationship, Tai will lay out the initial steps of the administration’s long-term strategy to create a level playing field for American workers and businesses and strengthen the middle class, the USTR said.
“I have said this before and I will continue to say it: the US-China trade and economic relationship is one of the profound consequences. As the two largest economies in the world, how we relate to each other does not just affect our two countries. It impacts the entire world and billions of workers,” Tai was quoted as saying by the USTR.
For too long, China’s lack of adherence to global trading norms has undercut the prosperity of Americans and others around the world, she said.
“To be successful, we must be direct and honest about the challenges we face and the grave risk from leaving them unaddressed. We must explore all options to chart the most effective path forward," she asserted
“When it comes to our relationship with China, what’s best for American workers is growing the American economy to create more opportunity and more jobs with better wages here in the United States,” Tai said.
In the coming days, Tai said, she intends to have frank conversations with my counterpart in China.
“That will include discussion over China’s performance under the Phase One Agreement. And we will also directly engage with China on its industrial policies,” she said in her remarks.
“Our goal is to bring deliberative, stable, long-term thinking into our approach – and to work through bilateral and multilateral channels.
“The core of our strategy is a commitment to ensuring we work with our allies to create fair and open markets. There is a future in which all of us in the global economy can grow and succeed – where prosperity is inclusive within our own borders and across those borders too,” Tai said.
After continuous efforts by both teams, China and the US reached the phase one deal based on the principle of equality and mutual respect, which illustrated a Chinese saying "There are always more solutions than problems".
The world's two largest economies had spent 18 months embroiled in a bitter trade dispute that imposed tit-for-tat levies on each other's commodities, mechanical parts and finished goods. Trump had launched the trade war with China in 2018 demanding Beijing to reduce the massive trade deficit.
His demands included an intrusive verification mechanism to supervise Beijing's promise to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) technology transfer and more access to American goods to Chinese markets.