Ag News

U.S., China move forward in trade negotiations

The Trump administration announced an agreement in principle with China in what was referred to as “phase one” of a trade deal that addresses several trade topics, among them exports of U.S. agricultural products to China.

President Donald Trump said the two countries are in the process of committing the agreement to writing and that it could be signed as soon as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative Summit in Santiago, Chile, which both Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to attend in mid-November.

Trump held an Oct. 10 press conference with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He following a principal-level negotiating round between U.S. cabinet officials and their Chinese counterparts held in Washington, D.C. Trump said the deal includes provisions for China’s annual purchases of U.S. agricultural products to increase to between $40 billion and $50 billion within two years.

“I’d suggest the farmers have to go and immediately buy more land and get bigger tractors,” Trump said, noting that Chinese buyers have already ramped up purchases of U.S. soybeans.

A statement from China’s Ministry of Commerce called the discussions constructive and that the two countries “gained substantive progress” on agriculture, intellectual property, exchange rate and financial services, expanding trade cooperation, technology transfer and dispute settlement.

Trump also indicated the U.S. would suspend further escalation of tariffs on imported Chinese goods.

In addition to increased purchases, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the agreement updates sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules and biotechnology rules in ways that will make it easier for American farmers to ship their products to Chinese buyers.

The American Soybean Association (ASA) expressed hope that the phase one agreement is an indication of de-escalation in the U.S. -China trade war.

“While it is good news to hear the United States and China have reached a partial agreement in this conflict, ASA is still awaiting additional information on the initial agreement and the potential impact on U.S. soy growers,” the ASA said in a prepared statement. “ASA remains hopeful this is a step toward rescinding the tariffs and helping restore certainty and stability to the soy industry.”