China Is Still Falling Short Of Meeting An Agreement To Reduce Its United State Trade Surplus

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China’s purchases of U.S. goods are still falling short of trade agreement levels, even as overall Chinese imports from the U.S. have surged.

That’s according to analysis out Monday from the U.S.-based Peterson Institute for International Economics.

In January 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic and under former U.S. President Donald Trump, China agreed to buy at least $2000 billion more in U.S. goods and services over the next two years, relative to the 2017 level. Known as the phase one trade deal, the purchase agreement included specific agriculture, energy and manufactured products.

However, as of June, both Chinese and U.S. government data indicated that China had bought less than 70% of the year-to-date target, according to estimates from Peterson Institute senior fellow Chad P. Bown.

Agriculture purchases again came the closest to meeting agreement levels, at 90% of the target, according to U.S. data that Bown cited.

CSIS on why China is reluctant to make significant concessions to the U.S.

The shortfall comes as trade between the two countries has grown, according to Chinese customs data.

China’s imports from the U.S. in the first half of the year rose to $87.94 billion, up 55.5% from the same period in 2020 and up nearly 49.3% from the first six months of 2019,
Meanwhile, China exported $252.86 billion worth of goods to the U.S. in the first half of 2021 — up 42.6% from the same period in 2020 and a rise of 26.8% from the first half of 2019.

As a result, the U.S. remains China’s largest trading partner on a single-country basis, despite trade tensions that escalated under the Trump administration.

U.S.-China trade talks at a standstill

In the last few years, under the Trump administration, the U.S. has imposed tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods in an effort to address long-standing complaints about issues such as lack of market access and intellectual property protection. Beijing responded with its own duties on U.S. goods.

Since taking office in January, President Joe Biden has retained Trump-era tariffs and sanctions on major Chinese technology companies such as Huawei, while announcing additional sanctions on chinese entities.

But Biden has “not yet articulated a trade strategy or another approach that would really be effective in countering China’s economic strength,” Michael Hirson, practice head for China and Northeast Asia at Eurasia Group, said Monday on CNBC’s

During a High level meeting between two countries on Monday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the U.S. should remove tariffs, as part of three broader requests from China, the ministry said.

Senior U.S. administration officials did not mention tariffs in a call with reporters about the Chinese officials’ meeting with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. Rather, the U.S. officials said Sherman noted concerns about unfair trade and economic practices.


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