US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Monday, January 31st, that trade relations between Washington and Beijing are at a “difficult” stage. However, she added that her team would “actively engage” with China to discuss Beijing’s commitment to buy American goods following the deal signed with the former Trump administration.

Tai said, “We’re in a very difficult stage of this trade relationship,” adding that “the conversations are not easy.”

AFP reported that the US and China signed a so-called “phase one” trade deal in January 2020, in which Beijing pledged to increase its purchases of US products and services by at least $200 billion between 2020 and 2021.

However, Beijing has failed to meet those goals because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Calling the deal “one of the defining issues we work on,” Katherine Tai said that she has begun “step one” discussions with China on a trade deal, but they have not yielded results as yet.

According to Tai, the administration’s broader goal is to “defend the American economy, our workers and our businesses from the negative impacts” of China’s non-market policies.

Biden recently said he was not ready to lift the tariffs Trump imposed on $37 billion worth of Chinese products in 2018 because of “unfair” trade practices.

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