Editor’s note: International trade issues with China, directly with Canada or with the United States, are having an effect on agricultural markets. While we hear a lot about the United States’ position through the Trump administration, we hear about China’s argument largely through snippets of information. We thought it would be of interest to readers to hear China’s arguments on its trade dispute with the United States. The following is a commentary from China’s state — run China Media Group, commonly known as the Voice of China.
The U.S. government is fully responsible for the halt in agricultural trade between China and the United States.
China will not rule out the possibility of levying additional tariffs on U.S. agricultural products purchased after Aug. 3 and related companies have halted purchases of farm produce from the U.S.
The announcement was made in defence of China’s national dignity and its legitimate rights and interests in response to the additional 10 percent tariff that Washington said it would impose on U.S.$300 billion goods imported from China starting next month. China’s response is further evidence that extreme pressure will not work in solving the China-U.S. trade dispute. Rather, it will only trigger countermeasures from Beijing.
Bilateral agricultural trade is highly complementary and mutually beneficial. Progress was made toward resolving the trade dispute after the meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump in Osaka, Japan, in June, when China decided to resume imports of U.S. farm produce in line with domestic demand. By the end of last month, 2.27 million tons of American soybeans were shipped to China. From July 19, companies in China began to make inquiries with exporters in the United States regarding additional orders of agricultural products. As of early August, they had agreed to purchase from U.S. suppliers a total of 130,000 tonnes of soybeans, 120,000 tonnes of sorghum, 75,000 tonnes of hay, 60,000 tonnes of wheat, 40,000 tonnes of pork and pork products, 25,000 tonnes of cotton, 5,700 tonnes of dairy products, 4,500 tonnes of processed fruits and 400 tonnes of fresh fruit. And the buyers had submitted applications with China’s government asking for tariff waivers for these imports.
Beijing has shown its sincerity in implementing the consensus reached between the two presidents at the G20 summit in Osaka. But Washington has once again spoiled the positive momentum with new attacks on China in the form of the additional 10 percent tariff due to come into effect in September. America’s farmers will have to bear the consequences of Washington’s irresponsible move.
Trade unions representing soybean, corn and wheat farmers in the United States previously issued a joint statement opposing the introduction of extra tariffs on China, pointing out that what American farmers need is markets, not tariffs. An article carried by the Los Angeles Times said that the trade war is wrecking the domestic farming economy. And former White House economic adviser Gary Cohn pointed out that the trade war is not hurting China’s economy. Instead, it is backfiring on the United States.
China offers the world a market of 1.4 billion people. In the first half of this year, the country’s agricultural import and export were worth US$108.65 billion, and had grown by 1.4 percent over last year. Exports stood at $36.81 billion, down 2.5 percent, and imports were at $71.84 billion, up 3.5 percent. The rise in imports, boosted by growing consumption, reflects the increasing opportunities China’s market offers the world. If the decision makers in Washington truly care about the interests of America’s farmers, they had better carefully consider the gains and losses of their approach. If they did so, they would realize that the best thing to do is get back on the right track, negotiate sincerely and create the proper conditions for bilateral agricultural cooperation.