US Goes After China For Balking On Its Free Trade Agreements

(Goh Chai Hin - Pool Getty Images)

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
Font Size:

U.S. officials are once again accusing China of walking away from its commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to open up its economy and halt anti-competitive practices that hurt foreign businesses, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The U.S. made the accusations in its annual report to Congress on China’s compliance with WTO trade commitments, such as opening up its economy to foreign businesses without artificial barriers. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai argues that China has shown no signs of opening up its economy and has instead gone in the other direction.

“China has instead retained and expanded its state-led, non-market approach to the economy and trade,” Tai told the AP. “China’s policies and practices challenge the premise of the WTO’s rules and cause serious harm to workers and businesses around the world.’’

Combating China’s trade practices has been a key priority for both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Trump imposed retaliatory tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese imports during his administration, tariffs that Biden has chosen to continue to enforce. (RELATED: Trade Chief Katherine Tai Says US Will ‘Build On’ Trump’s Tariffs To Fight China)


US President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping leave a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017. (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)

Trump also reached a “Phase One” trade agreement with China in February of 2020 in which China agreed to dramatically increase purchases of U.S. agriculture products. All told, China agreed to increase purchases by $200 billion for the two-year period between January 2020 and December 2021, but the country has fallen short of that agreement as well. China increased purchases by just 58 percent of the agreed-upon total in 2020, and 58% in 2021, according to a report from the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

While the phase one agreement called for further deliberation and meetings to create phase two and phase three trade deals, the talks never made any meaningful progress under Trump’s administration. The Biden administration has also made no public progress toward further trade negotiations with China.

Biden has framed the struggle between the U.S. and China as one that will determine whether democracy or autocracy will lead the world into the future. He has ordered the Pentagon to reorient itself with China as a top priority and hopes to work with U.S. allies to economically isolate China.