President Donald Trump said on Friday that he is not currently considering a possible next stage of the United States trade agreement with China, adding that the relationship between the two nations has been “severely damaged” by the coronavirus pandemic.
“They could have stopped the plague. They could have stopped it. They didn’t stop it,” Trump said on Air Force One en route to Florida, according to reporters on the plane.
When asked if that friction meant that “Phase Two” of the US-China trade deal would no longer happen, Trump said he was not even thinking about it and had many other things on his mind.
The status of the trade agreement between the two economic superpowers, whose first phase was signed and entered into force earlier this year, has been questioned amid the Covid-19 crisis.
The virus, which originally started in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has spread worldwide and has had a devastating effect on the health and economy of the United States. According to Johns Hopkins University data, more than 3 million cases and at least 133,291 Covid-19 deaths have been reported in the U.S.
Trump said in May that he was “very torn” about whether to rule out the first phase of the pact with Beijing, while his administration officials have said both countries are expected to comply with the deal.
The first phase of the deal followed a protracted trade war with China that lasted for much of Trump’s first term. The deal took initial steps to address issues including the protection of intellectual property and forced technology transfers, and also said that China will buy at least $ 200 billion in US goods over two years.
This is breaking news. Please check for updates.