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BEIJING: Beijing on Thursday fended off accusations that it had not honoured its commitments to a 2020 trade pact with the United States, calling instead for Washington to lift punitive tariffs and sanctions “as soon as possible”.

The comments came as US figures released Tuesday showed the trade deficit with China ballooning by $6 billion to $34.1 billion in December 2021.

After a long-running standoff, the two countries reached a so-called “phase one” agreement in January 2020, in which Beijing pledged to increase its purchases of American products and services by at least $200 billion through 2020 and 2021.

The deal followed a long-running trade war that saw then-President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping impose punitive tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods, dealing a severe blow to relations.

Washington has complained that Beijing is not holding up its side of the agreement, with Tuesday’s Commerce Department figures laying bare the yawning deficit. On the same day the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington-based thinktank, said China was “never on pace to meet its purchase commitments”.

But China’s commerce ministry on Wednesday argued Beijing had “promoted the joint implementation of the agreement”. Gao said China hoped the US would “cancel its suppressive measures of additional tariffs and sacnctions against China as soon as possible”, to “create a favourable atmosphere” for trade.

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