Despite the fact that the Trump administration is taking a harder line with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for its mismanagement of the pandemic, on Friday, June 5, the president hinted that the trade agreement with the CCP was intact, also releasing an optimistic report on bilateral trade relations.
During a meeting at the White House, President Trump announced that the CCP was buying many American goods, although he made it clear that he had not guaranteed a positive outcome. He also reiterated the criticism against Beijing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I will say [China is] buying a lot from us, and in that way I respect, and getting along with China would be a good thing. I don’t know if that’s going to happen. I’ll let you know,” he said, as the South China Morning Post reported.
At the same time, President Trump said he was currently working with various world leaders to address future recovery from the ravages of the CCP Virus. “We’re working with the world and we’ll work with China too. We’ll work with everybody,” the president said.
Phase 1 of the trade agreement with the CCP
The Phase 1 trade agreement signed in January between the CCP and the United States ended tariff measures on about $155 billion in Chinese imports and halved tariffs on another $120 billion in goods.
Mary Lovely of the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics said that terminating the agreement would be inconvenient for both parties.
“Both sides would suffer more deeply than in earlier round, either because higher rates mean higher economic dislocation and distortion, or [because] tariffs would be extended to the highly valuable flows of computers and cellphones that form the backbone of tech supply chains,” Lovely said.
CCP opening markets
According to a report by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), last month the CCP opened its markets for blueberries, California Hass avocados, barley and other feed grains, as well as giving approval for meat imports from more U.S. processing facilities.
Another measure taken by the Trump administration to comply with the terms of the agreement is a relaxation of import restrictions on potatoes and pet food products, as well as an expansion of the list of facilities from which the United States can export animal protein, pet food, dairy products, and infant formula to China.
“President Trump’s comments are the latest example of both the U.S. and China [the CCP] ring-fencing trade issues and keeping the phase-one trade deal moving forward, despite many continuing frictions elsewhere in their geopolitical relationship,” said Terry Haines, an independent policy analyst and former congressional staffer.
The progress in trade with the CCP comes amid a victory for the Trump administration after unemployment data on Friday revealed optimistic figures due to the addition of 25 million jobs by May after facing an increase in unemployment due to the impact of the CCP virus epidemic.
As IBTimes points out, the positive unemployment figures that were announced by President Trump may have been the result of various economic relief measures taken, including the payment of $1,200 in cash to individuals, as well as other packages approved to stimulate the economy.
But President Trump did not relent in his harsh treatment of the CCP’s role in the pandemic, referring to the CCP Virus as “the Chinese plague,” saying the threat had spread to the world after it leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, according to the media.
President Trump said, “The virus] didn’t go to Beijing, it didn’t go to other parts of China. … How come it came out to Europe, to the world, to the United States? Somebody has to ask these questions.”