President speaks about measures the US government is taking to protect various economic sectors from the effects of the coronavirus

Trump says he is confident that Xi Jinping ‘will honour the deal he made with us’

US President Donald Trump gave a qualified endorsement to Beijing’s efforts to fulfil the first phase of a trade deal that the two sides reached in January.

Commenting on measures the US government has taken to protect various sectors of the domestic economy from the effects of the coronavirus, Trump said on Monday that American farmers could expect some support from agricultural purchases China will make as part of the trade agreement.

“As of April 1 … it seems like [China is] buying,” Trump said at a press briefing. “So we’ll let you know how that’s going, but they’re buying anywhere from US$40 billion to US$50 billion worth of our agricultural product that would have a huge impact on our farmers.”

Trump said he was confident that China would follow through “because I know President Xi [Jinping], who I like and respect, and I think he will honour the deal he made with us”.

“In fact, I called up just a little while ago, I said, how are the farmers doing with respect to China, are they buying the product as anticipated?” Trump said, without specifying whom he had checked with.

“And the answer was ‘yeah, I think so’, but it wasn’t the most positive, but it was starting.”

The phase one trade deal ended threatened tariffs on around US$155 billion worth of Chinese imports that were set to take effect at the end of 2019 and halved tariffs to 7.5 per cent on another US$120 billion in goods. But it kept in place the 25 per cent import taxes on US$250 billion worth of Chinese products.

In exchange, China pledged to buy, over two years, at least US$200 billion more in American goods and services than it did in 2017, including about US$40 billion in agricultural goods.

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