Leading U.S. trade negotiators say China has failed to meet its trade commitments from last year and Washington will soon hold open discussions with Beijing.
In a speech Monday in Washington, the chief US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said, “China is making commitments intended to benefit certain American industries, including agriculture, that we must uphold.”
China has committed to add another 200 billion dollars to purchases of US exports as part of the Phase One trade deal negotiated under former president Donald Trump.
Tai said China had failed to fulfill the purchase promise and said he would hold a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier Liu He, to review the matter.
“Above all, we must defend our economic interests,” Tai said at Monday’s event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Continue Trump’s approach
William Adams, senior vice president and senior economist at PNC Financial Service Group, called the overall message of Tai’s speech “a message of continuity with the Trump administration’s approach to the US-China trade relationship.”
US President Joe Biden has defended the tariffs imposed by Trump as Tai undertook a months-long review of US trade policy with China.
Tai said Monday that going forward, the Biden administration would exclude some Chinese imports from the tariffs imposed by Trump. Most of the previous tariff exemptions expired at the end of last year.
While he rejected the idea of Phase Two talks, as Trump would like, to address China’s domestic subsidies and other matters, he said such issues would still be part of the US-China talks going forward.
US trade organizations, which have urged the Biden administration to quickly disclose its trade policies with China, have largely welcomed Tai’s remarks.
“We applaud its willingness to engage in discussions with its Chinese counterparts” on trade issues, and “we agree with Tai that China should be held accountable for their commitments under the Phase One agreement,” said Doug Barry, spokesman for the U.S. Business Council- China, to Mouab.
But Barry said his organization was still concerned about the possibility of more tariffs and tariff exemptions, which are especially important for farmers in the central US.
Tai did not rule out starting a new investigation under Article 301 of the 1974 Trade Act, which could lead to new sanctions against China. [uh/ab]