US 'scrutinizing' trade deal with China: official

By: AFP      Published: 10:48 PM, 28 Apr, 2021
US 'scrutinizing' trade deal with China: official

Washington is looking closely at the trade agreement signed with China by the Trump administration to ensure Beijing is living up to the terms, the top US trade negotiator said on Wednesday.

"With respect to the purchase commitments that the Chinese made in the US-China trade agreement, we are in the process of examining their performance and are scrutinizing all of the aspects of what they have done," US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said. 

She received numerous questions on relations with China as she testified before a Senate subcommittee, and said President Joe Biden's administration is studying all its "options" for enforcing the trade pact.

The two countries signed a so-called "phase 1" agreement in January 2020, in which Beijing pledged to increase its purchases of American products and services by at least $200 billion over 2020 and 2021.

Tai said examining China's performance against the promises made "will be a priority for us."

According to economist Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, China was nearly 40 percent short of the target amounts through the first quarter of the year.

"We are very focused on this agreement ... testing its utility, and maximizing our use of the tools that are included in this agreement," Tai told the Senators.

However, Tai said the meeting with her Chinese counterpart, which the deal calls for every six months, has "not yet been scheduled."

The deal aimed to end a damaging two-year trade war launched by former president Donald Trump.

However, Washington has maintained tariffs of 25 percent on a range of Chinese goods and industrial components worth $250 billion annually, and China has maintained duties on some imports from the United States.

The Biden administration has said it will keep the tariffs in place for now.