U.S.-China tensions are escalating, but President Donald Trump is expressing new satisfaction with the "phase one" trade deal amid rising Chinese purchases of U.S. corn, soybeans and sorghum.
“We were unfairly treated by China because they could have stopped it,” Trump said over the weekend about the COVID-19 pandemic, but went on to say he was pleased on the trade front. He highlighted his pleasure over two recent record-breaking daily sales announcements for corn sales to China.
The USDA reported sales of 1.937 million metric tons of corn to China on July 30 and 1.762 million tons on July 14. Both were record-breaking purchases, and all of that corn is scheduled for delivery in the 2020-21 marketing year.
So far this year, the Chinese have bought nearly 6 million tons of U.S. corn for delivery in 2020-21, according to a recent USDA analysis.
Concern in the U.S. ag sector broke out this weekend over press reports that the U.S. and China scuttled a planned minister-level meeting Saturday to review progress under the “phase one” pact, but sources tell Agri-Pulse that no such meeting was actually scheduled.
It’s not possible to postpone a meeting that wasn’t agreed upon in the first place, one of the sources stressed.
“It’ll happen,” said the source, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The root of the concern stems from a sentence in the “phase one” pact that states that the U.S. Trade Representative and his equal in the Chinese government will create a “trade framework group” that will meet every six months to discuss “the overall situation regarding implementation,” as well as any “major problems.”
While the first six months technically ended on Saturday, two sources stressed to Agri-Pulse that there is no agreement that the meeting has to be on an exact day, but rather roughly in that time frame.
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Meanwhile in China, August is the month for a secretive annual conference in the seaside city of Beidaihe, where top officials in the country’s communist party meet. The beginning and end of the conference is not announced publicly.
And Trump administration officials are not publicly expressing concern over the health of “phase one.”
“So China has been buying a lot of … things, and they're doing that to keep me happy," Trump told reporters Saturday.
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