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US sees China following through with trade deal despite coronavirus outbreak: Energy Secretary

Highlights

China agreed to buy extra $52 bil of US energy products

Brouillette has 'every expectation' China will honor deal

Washington — The US sees no reason China will not honor its commitments to buy an additional $52 billion in US energy products over the next two years despite the economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette said Thursday.

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As part of the Phase 1 trade deal struck in January, China agreed to buy an additional $18.5 billion in US energy goods in 2020 and $33.9 billion in 2021, compared with 2017 levels. The deal called for LNG, crude oil, refined products and coal purchases, but did not set volumes.

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"It's hard to tell [if it will] affect the purchases – I don't have any expectations at this moment that it will," Brouillette told reporters during a briefing at Department of Energy headquarters.

"I think the Chinese have every intention of honoring their agreements," he said, adding: "You'll see considerations given to the coronavirus [outbreak's] impact on demand overall, but as we look at it today, I don't think there's any expectation that anyone's not going to honor the agreements that they struck in Phase 1, so we have every expectation that they will."

The deal was a welcome sign for US energy interests, but some were questioning even before the coronavirus outbreak whether China could ramp up imports so sharply.

An uptick in US crude flows to China has not materialized since the deal. The US exported 17,000 b/d of crude to China in December, compared with 95,000 b/d a year earlier and peak flows of 469,000 b/d in March 2018, according to the latest Energy Information Administration data.

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