A US flag is seen on the container ship President Eisenhower at a seaport in Qingdao city, east China’s Shandong province, Dec. 23, 2021.
Yu Fanpin | Edition of the future | Getty Images
US officials on Monday called for ‘concrete action’ by China to deliver on its commitment to buy $200 billion worth of additional US goods and services in 2020 and 2021 under the signed ‘Phase 1’ trade deal. by former President Donald Trump.
Officials said Washington was losing patience with Beijing, which had “shown no real signs” in recent months that it would close the gap in two-year purchase commitments that expired at the end of 2021.
The comments come a day before the US government releases full-year trade data which analysts say will show a significant shortfall in China’s commitment to increase purchases of US agricultural and manufactured goods, of energy and services.
Through November, China had only reached about 60% of the target, according to trade data compiled by Chad Bown, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
US President Joe Biden has said the trade deal does not solve fundamental problems in China’s state-run economy, but US officials have pressed Beijing to respect the deal as it was signed.
“Because we inherited this agreement, we have engaged the (People’s Republic of China) on its breaches of the purchase commitment, both to fight for American farmers, ranchers and manufacturers and to give China the opportunity to meet its commitments. But our patience is running out,” said one of the officials.
China continued to engage with U.S. officials on the issue, but Washington was looking for “concrete action”, not “talks for the sake of talk”, the official added.
US officials said they would continue to pressure China to show “serious intent” to reach an agreement on their purchase commitments, but conceded that the framework of the agreement offered them few means of enforcing purchase commitments.
Regardless of the outcome of the talks, U.S. officials said they would continue to target fundamental problems in China’s state-run economy, while working to boost U.S. competitiveness by diversifying markets and working with allies and partners.
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi told a trade conference on Tuesday that China had failed to meet its purchase commitments under the deal and that talks between Washington and Beijing had been ” very difficult”.
The deal, signed by Trump in January 2020, defused a nearly three-year trade war between the world’s two largest economies, but left tariffs in place on hundreds of billions of dollars of imports from two sides of the Pacific.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington said last week that Beijing had worked hard to implement the Phase 1 agreement “despite the impact of COVID-19, the global recession and disruptions in the supply chain”.