U.S.-China trade deal in 'fine' shape, White House's Kudlow says

FILE PHOTO: White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow addresses a press briefing on the U.S. economy and new U.S. employment and unemployment numbers in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 2, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China is continuing to buy U.S. goods, particularly commodities, under its Phase 1 trade deal with the United States, despite rising tensions over Hong Kong and other issues, top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday.

Asked if deteriorating ties between the world’s two largest economies on other fronts could result in the trade deal being thrown out the window, Kudlow said, “No, no.”

“The one area we are engaging is trade,” he told reporters at the White House. “It’s fine right now.”

Top U.S. and Chinese officials are due to meet for a “routine” video conference on Saturday to assess implementation of the Phase 1 agreement six months after the deal defused a trade war that hurt both nations and the global economy.

Kudlow, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said China was continuing to implement the deal, which called for Beijing to purchase $77 billion in additional U.S. goods and services this year, and a total of $200 billion in additional purchases over two years.

“The evidence shows ... they’ve stepped up substantially” on purchases of U.S. goods, Kudlow said, citing what he called “really good numbers,” particularly on commodities.China has increased its purchases of U.S. soybeans recently, but it remains far short of the overall target for 2020. The United States exported just $7.274 billion in agricultural goods to China in the first half of the year, well below the $36.5 billion agreed under the trade deal.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping had soured in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Trump, who is seeking a second term in the White House in a Nov. 3 election, has repeatedly hammered China for not doing more to contain the virus.

The two countries have also been at odds over Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong, China’s human rights record, and the disputed South China Sea, among other issues.

Reporting by Jeff Mason and Andrea Shalal; Additional reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Paul Simao