U.S.-China Relationship Deteriorating Soon After Phase One Trade Deal

Analysts already expect China to be unable to meet its obligations under the Phase One trade deal it signed with the U.S. this year. Now, the relationship between the two largest economies in the world appears to be in trouble.

President Donald Trump seemed to add fuel to the fire when he told the Fox Business Network that he has no interest in speaking to Chinese President Xi Jinping right now, going so far as admitting the possibility of cutting ties with the Asian nation. Reuters reports the U.S. president is very disappointed with China’s failure to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, noting that the pandemic cast a pall over his Phase One deal with China, which was previously hailed as a major achievement.

“They should never have let this happen,” Trump says. “So, I make a great trade deal and now I say this doesn’t feel the same to me. The ink was barely dry, and the plague came over. And it doesn’t feel the same to me.”

Trump’s irritation extended to the Chinese president, who Trump one said he had a good relationship with. “Right now, I don’t want to speak to him,” Trump told Fox. “There are many things we could do. We could even cut off the whole relationship.”

Meanwhile, China says it will immediately allow imports of barley and fresh blueberries from the United States, just days after announcing plans to impose tariffs on barley imports from Australia as well as blocking Australian beef imports.

The South China Morning Post says opening up to more U.S. agricultural imports is a step towards meeting the nation’s Phase One trade deal commitments. “The U.S. barley import decision is mainly due to the trade deal,” says Rosa Wang, an analyst with JCI China, an agricultural data provider. “To meet the targets, it is necessary for U.S. farm products to enter China.”

Wang says it indicates China is making an effort, but also says the Australian side of things is a “separate matter.”