Coronavirus not expected to derail China's trade deal commitments: Mnuchin

Treasury secretary says China cutting tariffs in half on some US goods is 'big step in the right direction'

The U.S. expects China to be able to meet its commitments under the "phase one" trade deal, despite a coronavirus that has killed hundreds and closed stores and factories in East Asia, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on "Mornings with Maria" Thursday.

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"Based on our current projections of the virus, we're not worried about that," Mnuchin said. "But let me again say we're monitoring the virus carefully. We'll have a much better idea over the next two weeks. ... But based on current information, I don't expect there will be any issues in them fulfilling their commitments."

Hours earlier, China announced it would cut in half tariffs that the country levied in 2019 against 1,717 U.S. goods as part of the "phase one" agreement.

Mnuchin told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo the move is a "big step in the right direction."

"This is part of China implementing 'phase one,' which is our big focus at this point," he said.

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A container ship is unloaded at the Virginia International Gateway terminal in Norfolk, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

President Trump's chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow said exports in the "phase one" trade deal with China will be slowed down because of the coronavirus on "Mornings with Maria" on Tuesday.

"It is true the 'phase one' trade deal, the export boom from that trade deal, will take longer because of the Chinese virus," Kudlow said. "On the other hand, the North American trade deal, USMCA, is going to unlock tremendous investment ... Manufacturers will benefit."

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Chinese Ambassador Huang Ping responded to the comments Tuesday, saying he hopes the virus will not affect the trade deal. Huang said he did not know if China would use a clause about unforeseeable events in the trade deal to help the country meet its commitments.

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