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China lags U.S. trade deal target

The deadline is just weeks away, but a look at imports shows the country may have to make up for lost time.

China is far away from meeting its U.S. trade-deal commitments, with the latest data showing it’s imported just over half of the American goods it promised to buy in the first year of the phase-one agreement.

In the first 11 months of the year, China purchased about 50.5% of the total 2020 target of $172 billion, according to Bloomberg calculations based on figures from the nation’s Customs Administration. The trade pact was signed between the two countries on Jan. 15.

The outlook for the trade deal remains uncertain as a new U.S. administration under Joe Biden prepares to take office soon. Trump administration officials continue to argue that the phase-one deal helped to rebalance trade with China even though recent data shows the U.S.’s trade deficit has widened.

Here are key details of China’s progress in meeting the phase-one agreement:

  • As of the end of November, China purchased 54.1% of targeted manufactured products, 52.9% of agricultural goods and 31.1% of energy products
  • Integrated circuits aggregate imports stood at $13 billion in January-November compared with $10.2 billion in 2017
  • Soybean aggregate imports reached $8.1 billion in January-November compared with $13.9 billion in 2017

Note 2: Monthly services data are not available from China authorities.

Note 3: * The trade deal says China’s imports of manufactured, agricultural and energy goods in 2020 are no less than $32.9 billion, $12.5 billion and $18.5 billion on top of 2017’s levels, making the year’s targets at $110.4 billion, $36.6 billion and $25.1 billion. China’s year-to-date imports are compared to those targets to calculate the progress towards fulfilling the deal.

Note 4: The statistics bureau didn’t release single-month data for January and February but combined those month’s totals to smooth out the effects of the of lunar new year holiday.

Source: China General Administration of Customs

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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