China's purchases in Trump trade deal missing target

China has bought $56.4 billion of U.S. goods this year

China is lagging behind on purchase commitments made to the U.S. under a phase one trade agreement that President Trump hailed as a signature accomplishment of his first term.

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After a slow start as the COVID-19 pandemic roiled global commerce, Beijing has bought just $56.4 billion of American goods this year, according to Chinese data.

The partial trade deal signed in January said China, over the next two years, must buy $200 billion more of U.S. exports than the roughly $130 billion bought in 2017. The agreement calls for the purchase of about $32 billion of U.S. agriculture products.

The U.S. Trade Representative's Office didn't immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment.

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“China and the United States should create conditions and atmosphere to eliminate interference and implement jointly the first phase of China-US economic and trade agreement,” said Li Kuiwenn, policy and research deputy director at China's General Administration of Customs.

China’s slow response to informing the world about the severity of COVID-19 and its passing of a national security law in Hong Kong that bypassed the “One Country, Two Systems” framework that was promised for the 50 years following the 1998 British handover, has ratcheted up tensions between Washington and Beijing and jeopardized the second phase of trade negotiations.

COVID-19, which was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has infected more than 3.4 million Americans and killed more than 136,000. Stay-at-home orders aimed at slowing the spread of the virus forced non-essential businesses to close their doors, inflicting trillions of dollars of damage to the U.S. economy.

Despite the antagonism, Beijing remains committed to following through on its end of the trade pact. The U.S. has exported 1.76 million metric tons of corn and 129,000 metric tons of soybeans for the 2020/2021 marketing year, U.S. Food and Drug Administration data showed.

President Trump, for his part, said last month that the partial trade agreement remains “fully intact,” but has recently expressed reservations about going further.

The next part of the agreement had been expected to focus on Chinese subsidies, digital and data discrimination and forced technology transfers. Without a second deal, Trump has said he would maintain tariffs on $375 billion of Chinese merchandise.

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“I'm not interested right now in talking to China,” Trump told CBS News on Tuesday. “We made a great trade deal. But as soon as the deal was done, the ink wasn't even dry, and they hit us with the plague.”