When it comes to Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural goods, signs are growing that President Donald Trump won't get what he wants anytime soon.
Trump complained Thursday, July 11, that China hasn't boosted its purchases of U.S. farm products, a promise he claims he secured in a meeting with his counterpart Xi Jinping in June. But according to officials in Beijing familiar with the talks, no such agreement was made. China's Commerce Ministry also indicated that in their view, substantial discussions have yet to restart even though both sides spoke on the phone.
China has started preparing to buy farm products, including gauging the prices of U.S. soybeans, but will not purchase large amounts until it sees concrete progress in the negotiations, a person familiar with the matter said Friday. Small purchases could happen before that, the person said.
Trump and Xi agreed to a tentative pause in raising tariffs after their meeting in Osaka, though varying readouts and vague comments from Trump have sown confusion about what was actually agreed on in the room. Major sticking points include when and by how much China will increase its imports of U.S. farm products, and how exactly the U.S. will ease trade restrictions on Chinese technology giant Huawei Technologies Co.
China's stance so far suggests that "the purchase of agricultural products is pegged to the entire deal being done," said He Weiwen, a former commerce ministry official who is now a senior research fellow at the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing. "It is not a case that China buys American products first to get a final deal, but rather that after a final deal is inked, China will make the purchases it agreed to."
China has rejected a U.S. demand to increase agricultural purchases beyond the number Trump and Xi agreed to in Argentina last year, according to Wang Huiyao, an adviser to China's cabinet.