The USDA announced Friday a 300,000 metric ton sale of U.S. soybeans to Chinese buyers, following a Thursday purchase announcement of 1.13 million tons.

The purchase comes after U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue praised the initial purchase, while stressing that he hoped there would be more to come.

“We’re certainly hopeful in expecting that (China will) come through to restore the previous trading arrangement,” Perdue told reporters Thursday. “So, it’s a good start. We think it’s promising and we hope the agricultural portion of this agreement and conversations that (President Donald Trump) had can lead to more structural changes …”

Randy Russell, president of the influential lobbying firm The Russell Group, tells Agri-Pulse the purchases are “a very positive first sign” that the U.S. and China are making progress in a much wider ranging deal to bring an end to the trade war they have been battling for months.

China, which in a more traditional time period would already be buying millions of tons of U.S. soybeans at this time of year, had been completely shunning the U.S. crop until this week. China began collecting a 25 percent import tax on U.S. soybeans and many other crops in July, in retaliation to U.S. tariffs designed to punish China for intellectual property theft and a policy of forced technology transfer.

The U.S. sold about 32 million tons of soybeans to China in 2017 and 36 million tons in 2016. Chinese retaliatory tariffs have also had major impacts on U.S. pork, dairy, tree nuts, fruits, vegetables and just about every ag commodity shipped there.

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