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US, China trade officials hold first phone call, agree to promote ‘healthy’ ties


The United States of America (USA) and China have agreed to push forward mutual links in trade and investment, news agency Bloomberg reported, citing a phone call between Chinese commerce minister Wang Wentao and his US counterpart Gina Raimondo on Thursday morning. In what comes as their first such call since the start of the Biden-Harris administration, the ministers “agreed to promote the healthy development of pragmatic cooperation in trade and investment” and “exchanged views frankly and pragmatically on relevant issues and mutual concerns,” according to a statement by the Xi Jinping-led Chinese government.

US-China relations have remained strained for years owing to pinched economic ties, hegemonic rivalry in the Pacific, mutual suspicion over each other’s political intentions, and global influence. The phone call today between the commerce ministers of two countries is part of an attempt to bridge these fraught ties under the Biden administration — and is the third such call this week, after Chinese vice-premier Liu He spoke with US trade representative Katherine Tai and treasury secretary Janet Yellen earlier.

China appears optimistic regarding the latest attempts in normalising economic and political ties between the two countries. According to Gao Feng, the spokesperson for China’s commerce ministry, the country has started “normal communications” with the US. The two sides have agreed to pragmatically solve some issues for producers and consumers, and promote healthy, stable economic and trade ties, he said.

US statements, on the other hand, do not look that positive. While the Biden administration is committed to leveling the “significantly imbalanced” trade ties with China, there are parts of the US-China relationship “that are unhealthy and have over time been damaging in some very important ways to the US economy,” said US trade representative Katherine Tai said on the weekend before a meeting of Asia-Pacific trade ministers.

Investors and market analysts are keeping a close watch on the developments in the international sphere, according to the news agency, without getting overly excited about the normalisation attempts just yet. While it is true that both countries stepping up economic and trade cooperation is a positive step worth highlighting, it is also true that any notable “game-changing decision” or announcement is yet to be made.

(With inputs from agencies)



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