U.S. trade chief Tai says U.S. faces 'very large challenges' on China

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 12, 2021. Pete Marovich/Pool via REUTERS

By David Lawder and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) -U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Wednesday that the United States still faces “very large challenges” in its trade and economic relationship with China that require the Biden administration’s attention across the board.

Tai spoke with Reuters in an interview before her first virtual call with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, a meeting where she raised “issues of concern,” according to her office.

“During their candid exchange, Ambassador Tai discussed the guiding principles of the Biden-Harris administration’s worker-centered trade policy and her ongoing review of the U.S.-China trade relationship, while also raising issues of concern,” USTR said.

China’s commerce ministry described the talks as “a candid, pragmatic and constructive exchange”.

“Both sides view the development of bilateral trade as very important. (Both sides) exchanged views on issues of mutual concern and agreed to maintain communication.”

Washington and Beijing signed a Phase 1 trade deal in January 2020 after a two-year tariff war between the world’s two largest economy.

The Biden administration is conducting a comprehensive review of U.S.-China trade policy, ahead of the expiry of the Phase 1 deal at the end of 2021.

Tai told Reuters the ‘Phase 1’ U.S.-China trade deal was important but only one part of a challenging and complex relationship between the world’s two largest economies.

“The overall challenges that we have with China are also still there and they are very large,” Tai said.

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Regarding the Phase 1 trade deal, which requires Beijing to vastly increase purchases of U.S. agricultural goods, manufactured products, energy and services, Tai said: “Let’s put it in the context of the overall U.S.-China trade, and economic relationship which is very, very challenging. And requires our attention all across the board.”

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