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China has done ‘good job’ upholding Phase One trade commitments to US, Lighthizer says

Brittany De Lea

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is pleased with the progress China is making toward following through on trade promises it made to the U.S. in the major Phase One agreement.

During a speech at the Economic Club of New York on Thursday, Lighthizer said Beijing has done a “pretty good job” fulfilling commitments – even against the backdrop of a global pandemic.

“In many ways it was March 1 before they [could] get some of their things in place, so if you look at what they've done since March, 1 – and given the context of this crazy virus – I think they've done a pretty good job,” Lighthizer said. “I think the people with whom I negotiated this are honorable people and want it to be a success.”

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Lighthizer said he is content with what he has seen on both the purchase and structural pieces, adding that the administration has seen “significant purchases.”

Those upbeat comments come after President Trump indicated last month he might terminate the deal. Since the coronavirus crisis broke out, Trump’s rhetoric on China has soured over its response to the virus.

He even told FOX Business he could “cut off the relationship entirely.”

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There have been concerns that China will not meet its agricultural import commitments, which includes items like soybeans and dairy products. Beijing is supposed to ramp up its purchases by $200 billion over the course of two years, but the global pandemic has been credited with putting a damper on consumer demand.

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The Phase One trade deal went into effect on Feb. 14. In exchange for structural reforms and the commitment to increase purchases, the U.S. agreed to roll back tariffs.

Negotiations to reach an agreement took more than two years and resulted in the Trump administration levying tariffs on $370 billion worth of goods from China.

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FOX Business’ R.N. White contributed to this report.

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