Honour provisions or else I will terminate trade deal, Trump warns China

US President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in Washington | Photo: AP/PTI

US President Donald Trump has threatened to terminate the trade deal with China if Beijing did not honour its provisions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that originated in the country.

While China has reported 82,788 novel coronavirus cases, including 4,632 fatalities, the US registered over 824,600 cases and more than 45,290 deaths — the highest in the world.

China and the US in January signed Phase-1 of the trade deal as the world's two top economic powers move forward to end their bitter tit-for-tat two-year tariff war that had rattled markets and weighed on the global economy.

The deal, which calls on China to buy $200 billion worth of US products, is set to move ahead as planned. However, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission in a report said China could invoke a clause in the agreement that allows for fresh trade consultations between the two countries "in the event of a natural disaster or other unforeseeable event".

"If that happens, we'll do a termination and we'll do what I can do better than anybody," Trump told reporters on Tuesday during his daily White House press conference on coronavirus.

The president was responding to a question as to how confident he is that the Chinese are not going to invoke the natural disaster clause mentioned in the trade deal.

"There is nobody ever been tougher on China than me," Trump said, reiterating that China had been ripping the US off for years till he was elected as the president.

"Take a look, $200 billion, $300 billion, $400 billion, $500 billion a year. How did they ever let a thing like this happen? Now, if you look at this last year, the deficit went way down to the world," he said.

Trump launched the trade war with China in 2018, demanding Beijing to reduce the massive trade deficit, which was $375.6 billion in 2017.

The two countries so far have imposed additional tariffs on nearly $500 billion worth of goods. The US has imposed tariffs on more than $360 billions of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated with tariffs on over $110 billions of American products.

"Now it's much different. But a lot of things are happening. Great things were happening except all of these sudden out of nowhere came the invisible enemy. We think we know where it came from, and we'll be talking about that probably a lot, but came the invisible enemy. There's nobody tougher than me on China," Trump said.

A second wave of virus?

A second wave of the novel coronavirus will hit the US later this year with even more difficult ramifications than the current Covid-19 crisis that has claimed more than 45,000 lives and infected over 824,000 people in the country, a top American health official has warned.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield told The Washington Post that the US will have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.

If the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak and the flu season had peaked at the same time, it could have been "really, really difficult in terms of health capacity," he said.

Luckily, the arrival of the novel coronavirus in the United States came as the regular flu season was waning, he said.

"There's a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through," Redfield told the daily.

"We're going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time," he said, adding that having two simultaneous respiratory outbreaks would put unimaginable strain on the health-care system.

 

"We were very clear in the guidelines that we believe we can monitor, again, monitor communities at the community level by using the influenza-like illness and the syndromic respiratory and gastrointestinal temp components of this particular virus," Dr Deborah Brix, member of the White House Task Force on Coronavirus told reporters when asked about the second wave.

"Obviously, when we have flu, and were working on an algorithm that you test for flu and then you test for Covid-19 and making sure that we are building the testing capacity to be able to do that because I think it's very important that you're going to be able - on the surface, a patient, when they come in with early flu and early Covid-19 can look very close to identical," she said.

 



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