China has agreed to purchase $40 billion to $50 billion in U.S. agricultural commodities annually for two years as well as remove significant ag trade barriers, a senior Trump administration official told reporters Friday.
The exact text of the “phase one” deal was not yet ready for publication, but U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He are tentatively scheduled to sign the finalized document in the first week of January, the administration official said.
“In the agriculture area, we’re looking at commitments to make purchases in each of the next two years of $40 to $50 billion … Those are going to be significant increases,” the official said.
The U.S. exported a record $26 billion worth of ag to China in 2012.
“We’re really excited,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall told Agri-Pulse, but he said he wants to see the text of the deal. “A promise is a lot different than getting it in writing, so we’ll be looking forward to getting the details.”
“As the holiday season approaches, the announcement of a phase one trade agreement with China is good news for rural America,” said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan. “I applaud and encourage President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer to continue to press forward and bring this deal to a close so our agricultural producers can access this important market.”
The Farm Bureau’s Duvall stressed that addressing China’s numerous non-tariff barriers on U.S. beef, pork, and other farm goods are key to success with China, and the Trump administration official promised that many of those issues are indeed addressed in the deal.
“The agriculture chapter has very strong commitments in addressing a multitude of (Chinese) non-tariff barriers to U.S. agriculture and seafood exports, including meat, poultry, seafood, rice, infant formula, horticulture products, animal feed, feed additives and pet food,” the administration official told reporters on a conference call.
Without going into detail, the official said the deal addresses the “critically important” issue of biotech.
China’s opaque and burdensome biotech approval process adds years to the length of time it takes seed companies to get full international approval for new traits. China demands that new biotech traits go through the entire approval process elsewhere before Chinese officials even begin to study it. The U.S. has been trying to convince China to change its “asynchronous” approval process for years.
A fact sheet released by the USTR office, said the agreement addresses "a multitude of non-tariff barriers to U.S. agriculture and seafood products are addressed, including for meat, poultry, seafood, rice, dairy, infant formula, horticultural products, animal feed and feed additives, pet food, and products of agriculture biotechnology."
“For too long, unjustified trade barriers have prevented U.S. food and agricultural producers from fully meeting consumer demand in China,” said National Association of State Departments of Agriculture CEO Barbara Glenn. “Addressing these barriers is the key to enhancing market access for U.S. products and paving the way for increased U.S. exports.”