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China is still behind on buying enough U.S. goods to fulfill ‘phase one’ trade deal

  • As part of the phase one trade deal, China agreed that over the next two years, it would buy at least $200 billion more in U.S. goods and services relative to 2017 levels.
  • Chinese purchases of U.S. goods for this year through April are 73% of what they should be to stay on track with the trade agreement, according to estimates from the U.S.-based Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  • By category, agriculture came the closest to reaching the year-to-date target, the institute said.

Soybeans are harvested from a field on Hodgen Farm in Roachdale, Indiana, U.S. November 8, 2019.Bryan Woolston | Reuters

BEIJING — As the trade deal between the U.S. and China runs into its second year, Chinese purchases are still running short of the agreed amount, according to the U.S.-based Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Both countries signed a phase one trade agreement in January 2020, just weeks before Covid-19 began to spread rapidly in China and subsequently turned into a global pandemic. The deal stipulated that relative to imports from the U.S. in 2017, China needed to buy at least $200 billion more in U.S. goods and services over the next two years.

To stay on track with the agreement, China would have needed buy $64.5 billion worth of U.S. goods during the first four months of this year, Peterson Institute senior fellow Chad P. Bown estimated in a report Tuesday, citing Chinese customs data.

However, the data showed China's purchases of U.S. goods reached only 73% of the year-to-date target as of April, the report said.

Based on U.S. data, the level of progress falls to 60%, the institute said.

By category, agriculture came the closest to reaching the year-to-date target, at 79% based on U.S. data and 87% based on Chinese data.

The two-year agreement is set to end in December. Chinese purchases of U.S. goods fell more than 40% short in 2020, according to the institute.

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