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Trump Hits Out at China Over Slowing Agricultural Purchases

Alex Wayne, Shruti Date Singh and Michael Hirtzer
Trump Hits Out at China Over Slowing Agricultural Purchases

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Donald Trump complained that China hasn’t increased its purchases of American farm products, a promise he said he had secured at a meeting with the country’s president, Xi Jinping, at the Group of 20 summit last month.

Xi and Trump agreed to restart trade talks between their countries at the meeting, and the U.S. president said he would hold off on imposing additional tariffs on Chinese imports. Trump also claimed Xi had agreed that China would buy large amounts of U.S. agricultural goods.

But data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicate that China actually slowed its purchases of American agriculture products following the G-20 meeting. China bought 127,800 metric tons of U.S. soybeans last week, the equivalent of about two cargoes and a 79% reduction from the previous week. Similarly, China bought just 76 tons of American pork, compared to 10,400 tons in June.

Earlier on Thursday, Chinese Ministry of Commerce Spokesman Gao Feng said the agricultural trade is “an important issue that the two sides need to talk about” but didn’t confirm whether China agreed to buy American agricultural products as part of the agreement reached in Osaka. In the readout of the Xi-Trump meeting published by the state-run Xinhua News Agency, it only mentioned that Trump said he hoped China could increase imports from the U.S., and didn’t say how Xi or the Chinese team responded.

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the state-owned Global Times newspaper tweeted late Thursday that the “achievement of Osaka summit is a China-US consensus, not a unilateral commitment China made to the U.S. Hope the U.S. will lift all sanctions on Huawei soon and respect the principle of equality.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke on the phone with their Chinese counterparts this week, marking the first high-level contact following the G-20 meeting.

The American officials spoke to Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and Commerce Minister Zhong Shan on Tuesday, according to an emailed statement from a U.S. government official who declined to be identified. Both sides will continue these talks as appropriate, the official said, without offering more details on the next steps.

(Updates with Chinese comments in fourth and fifth paragraphs.)

--With assistance from Jenny Leonard and Miao Han.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Wayne in Washington at awayne3@bloomberg.net;Shruti Date Singh in Chicago at ssingh28@bloomberg.net;Michael Hirtzer in Chicago at mhirtzer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, James Mayger, John Liu

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