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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the coronavirus pandemic appears to be subsiding in China, it's becoming clear that its targets for the phase one trade deal with the U.S. are unrealistic and there is so far no sign of a plan for renegotiation.

What's happening: White House National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow said Thursday the trade deal was "intact, and China has every intent of implementing it."

  • Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Friday that Beijing plans to "work with the United States to implement the phase one China-U.S. economic and trade agreement."

Background: China agreed to buy $200 billion more in U.S. goods over the next two years than it bought in 2017.

  • The deal paused further escalation in tariffs and helped spur bullish sentiment (even though it did not remove many of the already implemented tariffs).

Yes, but: While China has significantly stepped up its purchases of U.S. agriculture products so far this year, including corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton, it is far from the pace necessary to meet targets for purchases overall.

  • Thanks in large part to the pandemic shuttering much of its economy for two months, Chinese purchases of U.S. goods are down 23.5% from 2019's levels and China was $21.2 billion behind schedule for the first three months of the year, according to an analysis earlier this month from Panjiva, which is part of S&P Global Market Intelligence.
  • The biggest shortfall is in purchases of U.S. energy products, particularly liquefied natural gas, as energy demand has cratered and prices have dropped.

By the numbers: Given the lull in imports during the January–March period, China would need to buy an "impossible" $2.9 billion of energy per month from April to December, Jason Bordoff, a former senior director at the U.S. National Security Council, writes in Foreign Policy.

  • "[A]t $30 per barrel (the U.S. government’s projected average price for 2020), that’s equivalent to about 3 million barrels of oil per day, or the total of all U.S. daily crude exports in 2019."
  • "That China would buy every last drop of exported U.S. oil is unrealistic enough — but today, that oil is not even available, as U.S. oil exports are projected to fall this year along with the collapse in U.S. shale output, which is projected to drop by roughly one-third over the next year."

One more thing: China also is facing renewed street protests in Hong Kong after passing a controversial national security law that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called a “death knell” for Hong Kong's autonomy.

  • White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said the U.S. is likely to impose sanctions on China if the law is passed.
  • China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned that some in the U.S. were pushing relations toward a "new Cold War."

Go deeper: Beijing says U.S. should give up "wishful thinking" of changing China

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 23, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Biden looks to stem oil "transition" furor amid GOP attacks

Former Vice President Joe Biden. ANGELA WEISS / Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign is looking to blunt attacks in response to his comments in Thursday night's debate about a "transition from the oil industry," as Republicans look to make the remarks a liability in the closing days of the race.

Driving the news: Biden campaign spokesperson Bill Russo, in comments circulated to reporters Friday afternoon, said the former VP "would not get rid of fossil fuels," but wants to end subsidies.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Here come Earmarks 2.0

DeLauro at a hearing in May 2020. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Appropriations Committee is preparing to restore a limited version of earmarks, which give lawmakers power to direct spending to their districts to pay for special projects.

Why it matters: A series of scandals involving members in both parties prompted a moratorium on earmarks in 2011. But Democrats argue it's worth the risk to bring them back because earmarks would increase their leverage to pass critical legislation with a narrow majority, especially infrastructure and spending bills.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

UN says Paris carbon-cutting plans fall far short

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nations' formal emissions-cutting pledges are collectively way too weak to put the world on track to meet the Paris climate deal's temperature-limiting target, a United Nations tally shows.

Driving the news: This morning the UN released an analysis of the most recent nationally determined contributions (NDCs) — that is, countries' medium-term emissions targets submitted under the 2015 pact.