Trump says China is 'letting us down' by not buying US farm products during trade talks

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters
A farmer fills seed planters with soybean seed in Gideon, Missouri.

China is not purchasing U.S. crops as the world's two largest economies scramble to end their trade war, President Donald Trump said Thursday.

The president tweeted that Beijing "is letting us down" by not buying American agricultural products "that they said they would." The development could bode poorly for efforts to reach a trade agreement, as U.S. officials have said they expect China to purchase crops as part of ongoing talks.

"Hopefully they will start soon!" Trump said.

Washington and Beijing have reengaged in trade talks in recent weeks after discussions collapsed in May. At the time a developing deal fell apart, Trump accused China of backing out of major commitments.

Stock market watchers have followed the conflict between the U.S. and China closely. A sustained trade war could damage not only American businesses but also the global economy.

After Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at the G-20 summit in Japan last month, the sides agreed to move forward with talks and hold off on imposing new tariffs. But the U.S. president left the meeting with the expectation that China would buy American crops.

"We're holding on tariffs, and they're going to buy farm product," he said at the time.

Increased agricultural purchases serve more than one purpose for Trump. He has long pushed for the U.S. to cut its trade deficit with China. Trump also seeks to help farmers in key electoral states recently punished by flooding, low crop prices and the U.S. trade conflict with Beijing.

On Tuesday, Trump's top economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, said the White House considers it "very, very important" for China to buy farm products as the trade talks continue.

The U.S. has put tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods. China has slapped duties on $110 billion in American products.

After trade talks collapsed in May, both Washington and Beijing increased rates for some of the existing tariffs.

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