China has begun making policy changes and will soon be accepting applications for tariff exemptions as part of its agreements under the "phase one" trade pact with the U.S., the Trump administration announced Tuesday.

The successes include a new Chinese protocol to allow imports of fresh potatoes from the Pacific Northwest, lifting restrictions on pet food, updating the lists of U.S. dairy processors that are eligible to ship to China and new tariff exemptions for some U.S. ag commodities.

“Today’s announcement is 20 years in the making and will allow Chinese consumers for the first time to enjoy potato chips sourced from high-quality U.S. fresh potatoes. We look forward to developing and expanding this vital market,” said National Potato Council Vice President of Trade Affairs Jared Balcom.

Even with high tariffs still in place, China is a major buyer of U.S. spuds, but only processed products. If those tariffs go down, China could be a top-five market for U.S. potato farmers. The country is currently in the top ten, NPC said.

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As to the tariff exemptions, China announced it will begin accepting applications from Chinese importers beginning Monday. Imports of a wide variety of commodities will be eligible, including soybeans, pork, corn, wheat, whey, oranges, cherries, sorghum, soyoil and beef.

Chinese soybean importers that obtain tariff exemptions won’t likely begin making purchases until late March with delivery in June or July, says John Baize, an analyst for the U.S. Soybean Export Council.

The Chinese are still dealing with a lot of Brazilian soybeans coming in as the country harvests and ships, he said.

“President Trump and this Administration negotiated a strong trade agreement with China that promises significant benefits for American agriculture,” Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement. “We look forward to realizing these benefits this year and are encouraged by progress made last week. We fully expect compliance with all elements of the deal.”

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