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US and China Trading at a Brisk Pace

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China and the U.S. are shipping goods back and forth at the quickest pace in years. Bloomberg says that’s making it look as if the tariff war and COVID-19 never interrupted the world’s largest bilateral trade relationship.

Bilateral trade in goods is an area of stability in a relationship that otherwise continues to struggle. In February of 2020, monthly two-way trade dropped to $19 billion amid shutdowns. However, official Chinese data says the trade numbers rebounded over the past year to set new records. That boom is likely to remain as China purchases millions of tons of U.S. farm commodities for this year and next.

While the U.S. government has somewhat different numbers on trade, the brisk pace has defied all expectations that the tariffs still in place on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of merchandise would interrupt supply chains. Both sides are living with the extra cost as China continues to buy large quantities of farm products to fulfill terms of the 2020 Phase One Trade Deal, while U.S. companies continue to purchase the products that they can’t get anywhere else to meet rising consumer demand.