China Way Behind In US Trade Deal Commitments But Trump Administration Not Inclined To Cancel


  • China went on a buying spree in August, but it didn’t go very far  toward making up the deficit
  •  Soybean purchases are up just 15% from last year while corn is up 50%
  • U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said that if you forget the first two months of the year, China has done a “pretty good” job in increasing imports

An analysis of China’s imports from the U.S. indicated Monday Beijing has been unable to meet its commitments under the phase 1 U.S.-China trade deal signed in January despite huge increases in soybeans, corn and cars.

The trade deal mandated $200 billion in additional Chinese purchases compared with 2017 levels.
Through August, China was just a third of the way to meeting the, Chad Brown, trade economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told the South China Morning Post.

Brown’s analysis indicated U.S. imports are well below targets. Census Bureau data show soybean sales to China were up 432% while corn was up 513% and car sales increased 97%. Cotton was up 44%. The increases, however, do not make up for the slide early in the year prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The soybean increase was up just 15% compared with last year while corn sales were up 50%. Pork purchases were up 134%. Despite the increase, however, agriculture purchases are at just 43% of the goal.

Brown said Chinese purchases through August totaled $47.6 billion compared to a target of $95.1 billion. Data compiled by the Peterson Institute, which doesn’t include data on services, indicated for the first half of 2020, China had bought less than a quarter of what it had promised, and purchases of energy through August are 5% of what was anticipated.

An American Farm Bureau Federation post, however, indicates there’s hope China will ramp up purchases next year.

“Perhaps 2021 will exceed expectations where 2020 has lagged. Large new-crop sales are a good sign for the next marketing year, so we like where this trend is heading,” AFBF President Vincent “Zippy” Duvall wrote, adding, “U.S. agriculture has been watching for signs of hope, and these early indicators of a return to more-robust ag exports are giving us the hope we need.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a recent speech to the Economic Club of New York that if the first two months of the year are ignored, China has done a “pretty good job” of meeting its commitments.

U.S. President Donald Trump has been ratcheting up the general rhetoric against China with the election approaching, but the administration has shown little inclination to scuttle the deal as a means of boosting Trump’s election prospects.

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