During a press conference on Friday, Trump refused to share details about the so-called phase one trade deal and did not take any questions from reporters. However, the president told Fox News that he is “very torn” about whether to maintain the deal.
An individual briefed on the matter told The Washington Examiner that the situation is far from resolved.
“This certainly won’t be the final say. If [China] is not living up to the deal, you can’t get to the fall and say, ‘I created the best trade deal with China.’ That talking point is out the window,” they said.
Some officials are reportedly concerned that China will not be able to meet its end of the deal. However, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who were in charge of negotiating the agreement, said in an official statement that Beijing will meet its commitments.
According to Center for a Prosperous America data, in January, the country committed to buying around $36 billion in agricultural products and close to $200 billion more American goods overall. China purchased 11.4 million tons for soybeans from the United States in the first quarter of this year. In comparison, it purchased 24.7 million tons from Brazil.
As Center for a Prosperous America chief economist Jeff Ferry explained, the export targets may be unreachable, but not necessarily out of “bad intent.”
“That doesn’t mean that the China trade deal won’t blow up over something, or at some point, that the administration will make the political calculation that pulling away is worth more than staying in,” Ferry said.
Concerns over trade appear to have intensified amid the coronavirus pandemic and as the tensions between the two countries continue to rise. Last week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the United States is “pushing our two countries to the brink of a new cold war.”
Wang made the remarks in response to increasingly hostile rhetoric from top U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Trump, Pompeo and the president’s Republican allies have blamed China for the spread of COVID-19, suggesting that Beijing withheld information about the deadly virus.
Earlier this week, Trump officially withdrew the United States from the World Health Organization. As a reason for the withdrawal, he cited China’s “total control” over the organization.