It would be a mistake and a bad political move for Washington to withdraw from the phase one trade deal with Beijing, two United States legislators said on Thursday.
A story in Politico on Thursday had the headline "Death of trade deal with China could be 'October surprise'."
"October surprise", in campaign parlance, refers to a news event that breaks late in an election cycle and could potentially impact the results.
Although anti-China rhetoric and actions have been employed by both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates as tactics to court support ahead of the Nov 3 election, US Congressman Rick Larsen said he does not believe withdrawing from the trade deal China and the US signed on Jan 15 was an option.
"I just don't see how that plays out positively for the president. There are other things that could happen that would show a 'tough-on-China' approach that have nothing to do with the phase one deal," said Larsen, a co-chair of the House's US-China Working Group.
The bipartisan group educates members of Congress about US-China issues through meetings and briefings with academic, business and political leaders from both countries.
Speaking at a webinar sponsored by the US-China Business Council, Larsen, a Democrat from Washington state, said it is possible that the president would go ahead and scrap the deal, but possible does not mean probable.
"I wouldn't understand the politics of pulling out of the phase one deal from this administration's perspective," he said."It wouldn't seem like a good move politically to do that."
US Representative Darin LaHood, a Republican and another co-chair of the US-China Working Group, said the phase one deal, particularly on agriculture, is "obviously" an important political constituency for US President Donald Trump.
"If we pulled the plug on that and China didn't have to comply with those contractual obligations, it would be devastating to our farmers," said LaHood, a congressman from Illinois, which has led the country in soybean production over the past five years.
China has ramped up purchases of US products in recent weeks, as top trade officials of the two countries had a positive phone call late last month in which they reaffirmed their commitment to the trade deal.
LaHood said Illinois recently had a bountiful harvest, and 25 percent of the soybeans grown in his district go to China every year, constituting a big part of the purchase agreement.
"So if for some reason they pulled the plug on that, there's going to be political consequences," he said.
LaHood said there will be "some struggles there" with some of the purchase agreements. But on others, particularly agriculture and some in manufacturing, he said, "I'm optimistic that they're going to meet that, and I think they want to do that."
"This president could decide to tear it up a month from now,"LaHood added. "I think he has the discretion, the ability to do that, but that would be a mistake. There is much more to gain by staying on track with phase one and (a future) phase two than to rip it up."