(Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Wednesday ratcheted up rhetoric on President Donald Trump’s handling of the United States’ increasingly tense trade relationship with China.
“Trump’s ‘phase one’ trade deal with China is failing – badly,” Biden said in a statement sent to Reuters after Commerce Department data showed the U.S.-China trade deficit widened 5% to $28.4 billion in June from the month prior and confirming Beijing is falling well short of its commitments to buy U.S. goods.
Trump has made closing that imbalance a pillar of his approach to relations with China.
A representative for Trump’s campaign was not immediately available for comment.
A trade pact between Washington and Beijing that was signed in January is at risk.
Under the Phase 1 deal, China pledged to boost purchases of U.S. goods by some $200 billion over 2017 levels, including agricultural and manufactured products, energy and services. China, battered by the global coronavirus recession, is far behind the pace needed to meet its first-year goal of a $77 billion increase.
Biden said the current trade deal is “unenforceable,” and “full of vague, weak, and recycled commitments from Beijing,” allowing the country to keep “providing harmful subsidies to its state-owned enterprises” and “stealing America’s ideas.”
The statement confirms that a hawkish back-and-forth on China will continue to be the signature foreign policy issue ahead of the Nov. 3 election showdown between Trump and Biden. Trump’s campaign have characterized the former vice president as “Beijing Biden,” and weak in the face of China’s economic rise at the expense of the United States.
Senior U.S. and Chinese officials are set to review the implementation of the Phase 1 trade deal and likely air mutual grievances during an Aug. 15 videoconference, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing two people familiar with the plans.
China’s ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, said on Tuesday that a meeting between the two sides would “be very positive.”
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