US, China move forward in implementing trade deal

U.S. blueberries, avocados and barley now available for export to China

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The U.S. and China are making progress toward implementing the phase one trade deal struck earlier this year, with Beijing now accepting shipments from more U.S. plants than ever before.

The announcement from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer comes amid flaring tensions after the U.S. criticized Beijing's initial handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was first identified in Wuhan, China, and has since infected nearly 4.9 million people worldwide.

Even with the recent tensions between the two sides, however, Beijing has forged ahead with updating its list of U.S. facilities eligible to ship their goods to China. The list now includes 499 beef, 457 pork, 470 poultry, 397 seafood, 253 dairy and nine infant-formula facilities, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Agriculture products from blueberries to avocados and barley are now eligible for export to China, the Department of Agriculture and the Trade Representative's Office said Thursday.

“China has worked with the United States to implement measures that will provide greater access for U.S. producers and exporters to China’s growing food and agricultural markets,” Lighthizer said in a statement.

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The U.S. and China signed a historic trade accord in January that called for Beijing to purchase an additional $200 billion worth of American products over the next two years, in addition to commitments to halt intellectual property theft, refrain from currency manipulation and cooperate in financial services.

The purchases will include up to $50 billion of U.S. agriculture and an additional $40 billion in services, $50 billion in energy and up to $80 billion worth of manufacturing.

In return, the U.S. reduced tariffs imposed by President Trump on some goods, but kept duties on $375 billion worth of merchandise.

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Phase two talks were supposed to begin earlier this year, but the pandemic has delayed those discussions.