'Not interested in talking to China': Donald Trump on Phase 2 of trade deal

For months, Trump has blamed China for sending the coronavirus to the United States, saying that China must be held accountable.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he is not interested in talking to China regarding Phase Two of the trade deal.

"I'm not interested right now in talking to China," Trump said in an interview with CBS News. "We made a great trade deal. But as soon as the deal was done, the ink wasn't even dry and they hit us with the plague."

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed the Phase One deal in January. The two sides described the pact as a first-phase agreement, to be followed by new negotiations toward a more expansive deal in a second and possibly third phase.

The world's two largest economies never set a timeline for the second phase, however, trade negotiations were quickly overshadowed as countries around the world grappled with the coronavirus pandemic.

For months, Trump has blamed China for sending the coronavirus to the United States, saying that China must be "held accountable" for failing to contain the disease. The pandemic has taken a stiff toll on the US economy, endangering Trump's hopes for re-election in November. China pledged to increase purchases of US farm and manufactured goods, energy and services by $200 billion (159 billion pounds) over two years as part of the Phase 1 trade deal, but Trump has said the pandemic changed his views on the agreement.

At the White House, Trump announced that he signed legislation and an executive order to hold China accountable for the "oppressive" national security law it imposed on Hong Kong.

The measure approved by Congress, the latest in a series of moves aimed at ratcheting up pressure on Beijing, gives Trump's administration the authority to penalise banks doing business with Chinese officials who implement Beijing's new national security law on Hong Kong.

Trump said he has no plans to talk to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic began, few trade watchers in Washington were expecting Phase 2 negotiations to bear fruit before the 2020 election.

The economic fallout from the pandemic also made it increasingly unlikely that China would meet its targets for expanded purchases of US goods under the Phase-One deal, fueling further doubts about prospects for new talks.

The US had a USD 308 billion trade deficit in goods and services with China in 2019, due to the US importing far more goods than it exports. That deficit is little changed since 2016, when Trump took office but is down from a peak imbalance of nearly USD 380 billion that was reached in 2018.

(With inputs from Reuters and ANI)

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