US agriculture secretary says unsure if China will meet Phase 1 farm commitment

Reuters – China may fall short of annual agricultural product purchasing commitments made in its Phase 1 trade deal with the United States due to “non-agricultural trade issues,” U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Oct. 2.

“I’m not sure they’re going to make it, but they’re trying,” Perdue said during a town hall meeting with farmers at Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative. “Non-agricultural trade issues get in the way.”

China committed to importing $36.5 billion in U.S. farm products this year in the trade deal signed in January, but lagging purchases during the first half of the year cast doubt on the goal of increasing imports by more than 50 per cent over 2017 levels. It was unclear which trade issues Perdue believed were obstacles to the agreement. A series of hurdles have emerged since the Phase 1 deal was implemented, including a threatened U.S. ban on popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok and an executive order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump ending preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong.

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Chinese imports of U.S. agricultural products totalled just $8.6 billion from January through July, according to the latest U.S. Census trade data.

Buying has accelerated considerably in August and September, including around 12 million tonnes of soybeans and four million tonnes of corn, according to preliminary U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

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