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US is confident coronavirus won't impact China trade deal

By Elena Berton

Although China is now focused on containing the virus, it’s still expected to live up to trade deal commitments, US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin says

Steven Mnuchin, United States secretary of the treasury API

US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin says he does not expect the coronavirus outbreak to have an immediate material impact on the Phase 1 US-China trade deal.

Although China is now focused on containing the virus, Washington still expects Beijing to live up to its commitment to buy more US products and services under the trade deal, Mnuchin said in an interview with Reuters.

Mnuchin also cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the potential disruption on the global economy, or on companies’ supply-chain decisions, saying it was simply too soon to know.

"Within the next few more weeks, we’ll all have a better assessment as there’s more data around the rate of the virus spreading,” Mnuchin said.

Fears of a coronavirus pandemic have mounted after Iran, Italy and South Korea reported a sharp rise in new cases.

Finance chiefs of the world’s top 20 economies have vowed to monitor the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on global growth and act if needed, saying loose monetary policy and easing trade tensions would spur a pick-up in 2020 and 2021.

Mnuchin said the outbreak could also delay the start of the next phase of trade talks, but said he was not worried about that at the moment.

“If we get the right deal before the election, that’s great. If we get the right deal after the election, that’s great. We don’t feel any pressure one way or another,” he said, referring to the November presidential election, in which President Donald Trump is seeking re-election.

FURTHER READING: G20 finance heads pledge to monitor coronavirus impact

FURTHER READING: China turns to QR codes to help contain coronavirus outbreak

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