President Trump has touted his “historic” US-China trade agreement as a boon for America’s farmers. Still, a little more than eight months have passed since the deal was signed, and Beijing has purchased less than one-third of the US exports it said it would buy this year under the agreement. 

A summary of China’s monthly purchases of US goods covered by the deal, derived from Chinese customs (China’s imports) and the US Census Bureau (US exports) data, presented by Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), shows China’s year-to-date total imports of covered US goods (as of August) were $56 billion, versus the prorated year-to-date target of $115.1 billion.

What this means for the prorated year-to-date target as of last month is that China is about 48% below the levels it needs to fulfill the trade deal this year. As for the full-year target of $172.7 billion, well, China has only purchased less than a third. 

Here is PIIE’s breakdown of China’s imports by product type, showing Beijing is severely behind in purchases of agriculture, manufactured goods, and energy products. 

Covered Agriculture Products

For covered agricultural products, China committed to an additional $12.5 billion of purchases in 2020 above 2017 levels, implying an annual target of $36.6 billion (Chinese imports, panel b) and $33.4 billion (US exports, panel c). Through August 2020, China’s imports of covered agricultural products were $11.0 billion, compared with a year-to-date target of $24.4 billion. Over the same period, US exports of covered agricultural products were $9.6 billion, compared with a year-to date target of $22.3 billion. Through the first eight months of 2020, China’s purchases were thus only at 43 percent (US exports) or 45 percent (Chinese imports) of their year-to-date targets.

Covered Manufactured Products

For covered manufactured products, China committed to an additional $32.9 billion of purchases in 2020 above 2017 levels, implying an annual target of $110.8 billion (Chinese imports) and $83.1 billion (US exports). Through August 2020, China’s imports of covered manufactured products were $41.5 billion, compared with a year-to-date target of $73.9 billion. Over the same period, US exports of covered manufactured products were $33.2 billion, compared with a year-to-date target of $55.4 billion. Through the first eight months of 2020, China’s purchases were thus only at 60 percent (US exports) or 56 percent (Chinese imports) of their year-to-date targets.

Covered Energy Products

For covered energy products, China committed to an additional $18.5 billion of purchases in 2020 above 2017 levels, implying an annual target of $25.3 billion (Chinese imports) and $26.1 billion (US exports). Through August 2020, China’s imports of covered energy products were $3.5 billion, compared with a year-to-date target of $16.9 billion. Over the same period, US exports of covered energy products were $4.8 billion, compared with a year-to-date target of $17.4 billion. Through the first eight months of 2020, China’s purchases were thus only at 27 percent (US exports) or 21 percent (Chinese imports) of their year-to-date targets.

Despite the lack of purchases, Trump continues to tell farmers the deal is “fully intact.” Nevertheless, increased friction between both countries over coronavirus, technology transfers, and Taiwan have erupted this year, making it less likely for Beijing to fulfill its phase one obligations as it has gone elsewhere.  

A new development that could weigh on US purchases is that China appears to be urging domestic companies to limit imports of foods from countries where the virus pandemic continues to rage

Readers should be asking one simple question: Why isn’t the Trump administration being held accountable for not enforcing their own trade deal?

Via Zerohedge

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