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Doubts rise about Trump's claim of China's promise to purchase more US farm products

Key Points
  • Uncertainty persists over China's promise to purchase more U.S. farm products, The Wall Street Journal reports.
  • During trade talks last week, President Trump said China agreed to purchase about $40 billion to $50 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products "in less than two years."
  • China has not confirmed a time frame or a figure amount for the purchases.
A farmer verifies that his equipment is dropping seeds at the appropriate depth as he plants a cornfield outside Henry, Ill.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

U.S. and China's "substantial" deal is already looking hazy, especially regarding China's promise to hike its purchase of agricultural products, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Uncertainty reigns over China's commitment to buy more farm products from the U.S. Reports say details are lacking over time frame and amount of purchases that were promised.

During trade talks last week, President Donald Trump said China agreed to purchase about $40 billion to $50 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products "in less than two years." However, it is unclear what the U.S. might have to concede in return for this aspect of the deal, and if tariffs slated for December could be used as leverage.

The U.S. is schedule to impose a new 15% tariffs on more than $150 billion in goods on Dec. 15.

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Chinese negotiators have said China will only buy U.S. agricultural products based on demand and market prices. Further, $50 billion is well above the historical average China has spent on these purchases, reports said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed this noncore concession and said Trump's announcement was "consistent" with China's understanding of the deal, but details are still lacking. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told an Iowa radio station on Tuesday that China and the U.S. shouldn't make a deal on "trust" alone. He said he needs more details on the parameters of the agreement because China has not confirmed Trump's touted figures.

Trump has used the purchase of U.S. farm products a noncore pawn in the over year-long trade war as farmers are an important voting base for Trump.

Uncertainty also persists regarding the U.S. involvement in the Hong Kong protests.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives signed a bill that requests various government departments to consider whether recent political developments in Hong Kong require the U.S. to change the region's special trading status, which would effect exports from the mainland traveling through Hong Kong.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that China would take countermeasures against the U.S. in response to the bill.

—Read the full Wall Street Journal story here.