The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday urged China to increase its purchases of U.S. goods and services as agreed under a Phase 1 trade deal despite delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chamber said the pandemic had clearly slowed progress for both governments, but there were reasons to be hopeful. It also welcomed regular talks between the two countries on implementation of purchases, intellectual property reforms and other issues covered by the trade deal.
“Implementation is critical. COVID-19 has unquestionably slowed progress for both governments, and it will be critical for the pace of implementation of purchases to accelerate markedly,” it said in a statement after a virtual meeting of top U.S. and Chinese business leaders on Wednesday.
The meetings, which are held twice a year by the Chamber and the China Center for International Economic Exchanges focused on supply chain challenges and the details of the Phase 1 trade deal that took effect in February.
Tensions between the two largest economies have mounted in recent months, casting doubt on the future of the trade deal. Here, China had agreed to buy an additional $200 billion worth of U.S. goods and services in a span of two years.
China had also previously threatened retaliation after U.S. President Donald Trump signed legislation on Wednesday which called for sanctions over the repression of China’s Uighurs, a Muslim minority.
The Chamber said China’s 1.4 billion consumers represented the fastest growing market for U.S. companies despite U.S. firms facing challenges when dealing with China.
However, the Chamber said that a functional relationship between the two countries was “in the fundamental interests of Americans, and of peace and stability in the world.”