“Both sides agreed that good progress is being made on creating the governmental infrastructures necessary to make the agreement a success,” Lighthizer and Mnuchin said.
Mnuchin and Lighthizer also dismissed any concerns that Beijing’s slow start in making purchases amid its coronavirus emergency earlier this year would force China to pull back on its commitments.
Chinese officials “also agreed that in spite of the current global health emergency, both countries fully expect to meet their obligations under the agreement in a timely manner,” the U.S. officials said.
Over the past several years, Trump has often been more pessimistic than his advisers regarding the state of trade relations with China, in an apparent attempt to keep the pressure on Beijing.
The deal requires China to increase purchases of U.S. goods and services by $200 billion above 2017 levels over the next two years. That includes $76.7 billion more in U.S. exports this year and $123.3 billion more in 2021.
However, Commerce Department trade data released this week, showed China’s purchases of U.S. goods running below 2017 levels by more than $7 billion in the first three months of this year.
USDA’s most recent weekly export sales report, in combination with previously issued data, showed a mixed picture: U.S. soybean exports to China are running at about half the 2017 level, but other commodities like corn and pork are sharply higher.
The coronavirus pandemic has put enormous strains on the U.S.-China relationship, with the Trump administration blaming China for the severe economic and health fallout.
“Look, I’m having a very hard time with China,” Trump said on “Fox and Friends.” “I made a great trade deal months before this whole thing happened. And it was kicking in a month ago … and starting to produce, and then this happened and it sort of overrides so much.”
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