Trump administration ‘satisfied’ with China purchase progress in Phase 1 trade deal: Kudlow

© Reuters. U.S. President Donald Trump holds press briefing on the U.S. economy and unemployment numbers at White House in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Thursday said the Trump administration is satisfied with China’s progress in meeting commitments to purchase U.S. goods in a Phase 1 trade deal, signaling that the pact will survive an initial review on Saturday.

China “is now really picking their imports of our commodities — which is a great boon, by the way, for the U.S. agriculture and farm sector,” Kudlow told reporters at the White House, recounting U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s comments to President Donald Trump.

Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Saturday will conduct the first semi-annual review of the trade deal’s implementation in a videoconference.

Despite rapidly rising tensions between Washington and Beijing over the coronavirus pandemic, a security crackdown in Hong Kong, U.S. sanctions against Chinese companies and officials and human rights issues in Xinjiang province, the Phase 1 trade deal, signed on Jan. 15, has weathered the storm.

“We have big differences with China on other matters, but regarding the Phase 1 trade deal, we are engaging,” Kudlow said.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, China’s purchases of U.S. farm and manufactured goods, energy and services have gotten off to a slow start and are well behind the pace needed for a promised increase of $77 billion this year and $200 billion over two years.

But Lighthizer has told Trump that China is now buying over 40% of U.S. commodity exports, compared to about 20% in the baseline year of 2017, Kudlow said.

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