U.S. farmers and ranchers will have to wait longer for the expected surge of Chinese purchases agreed to under the "phase one" trade deal as the country grapples with trying to stop the spread of the coronavirus, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Tuesday.

"It is true the phase one trade deal, the export boom from that trade deal, will take longer because of the Chinese virus," Kudlow Tuesday said on Fox Business. “That is true.”

As to how long of a delay, Kudlow said maybe up to half a year, but stressed the situation is still unclear.

“This is all iffy,” he said. “There’s a lot of information we don’t have.”

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And it’s that uncertainty that has U.S. ag exporters concerned. There is still no reliable information on how Chinese ports are operating and how much trade will be impacted, Agriculture Transportation Coalition Executive Director Peter Friedmann tells Agri-Pulse.

The phase one trade deal is expected to be one of the major accomplishments President Donald Trump will bring up in the State of the Union speech Tuesday night, but it’s unclear how much the coronavirus outbreak will blunt what the White House is claiming as a victory. China agreed under the deal to buy $80 billion in U.S. agricultural commodities over the next two years.

Bloomberg reported Monday that Chinese officials are asking the U.S. to be flexible on the timeline of the promised purchases, but U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told Agri-Pulse that he had not heard the request directly from China.

And Kudlow was quick to downplay the impact of the virus, stressing there will be “minimal impact” on the U.S. economy.

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