US-China trade meeting postponed
China is increasing purchases from American companies.
The United States and China have postponed their meeting on the first phase of their trade deal, originally slated for Saturday, sources familiar with the plans told Reuters. The parties referred to the time required for additional purchases of US export products by China.
Sources said that a new date for the meeting on the semi-annual results of the trade deal between the US Trade Representative has not yet been agreed. By Robert Lighthizer, US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin and Vice Premier of China Liu He.
Officials were expected to hold a videoconference on Saturday, the six-month anniversary of the trade deal effective February 15, as the coronavirus pandemic began to spread worldwide..
A source familiar with the negotiations said the delay was due to a conference of senior Communist Party leaders in the seaside city of Beidaihe on China’s northeast coast. The delay did not reflect any significant concerns with the trade, the source said, adding: «New date not yet set».
President of the U.S.A Donald Trump on Friday reiterated his opinion that the trade «going very well», but did not comment on the postponed meeting. White House forwarded requests for talks to Lighthizer’s office, which did not respond to Reuters request for meeting plans.
Another source familiar with the plans said US officials wanted China to have more time to increase US purchases, agreed in the deal to improve the political dimension of the meeting..
China’s imports of agricultural and industrial products, energy and services from the United States are well behind the pace needed to achieve $ 77 billion in first-year growth, compared with purchases in 2017.
But as China’s economy recovers from the coronavirus quarantine, purchases are increasing. On Friday, the USDA announced the sale of 126,000 tonnes of soybeans to China, another major sale to Chinese buyers..
US oil traders, ship brokers and Chinese importers also told Reuters that Chinese state oil companies had pre-chartered tankers to carry at least 20 million barrels of US crude in August and September, indicating an increase in energy purchases..
Trump administration officials said they are satisfied with the pace of purchases in recent weeks and have no plans to abandon the trade deal, which also includes some expansion of US financial firms’ access to the Chinese market, stronger intellectual property protections and the removal of some agricultural trade barriers..
Delaying the meeting, even briefly, could allow China to make more purchases, which will help Lighthizer convince Trump to stick to the deal.
Signs of China’s assent can also help fend off harsh criticism from a Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who said last week that the deal, which Trump called a historic victory, «crumbling».
«I think Trump is a little afraid that this triumph of his will hang around his neck, but an increase in purchases and a little delay will clearly help.», – said Mary Lovely, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
«But he has it, so they will have to show the best attitude.», – she commented on the first phase of the trade deal.
The trade agreement has emerged as the only source of stability amid significant tensions between the US and China over the coronavirus pandemic, human rights repression and US sanctions on Chinese companies and phone apps..