The Agriculture Department on Friday announced new export sales of 405,000 metric tons of U.S. corn and 400,000 tons of soybeans to China for delivery in the 2020-21 marketing year, providing new evidence that Chinese demand remains strong despite tensions between the two countries. 

“I think with these sales today – the new market here begins Sept. 1 – I think it’s accurate to say … that when we turn the page to Sept. 1, we’ll have a record number of soybean sales on the books to ship to both China and to the world,” said Gregg Doud, chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative. “That’s already the case for corn … We’re going to be really busy loading boats come harvest time and that’s a really good thing.”

USDA also on Friday reported export sales of 368,000 tons of new crop soybeans to “unknown destinations.”

The latest export sales to Chinese buyers show a continuation of rising new crop contracts for soybeans in August, the last month before the start of the 2020-21 marketing year begins.

China purchased about 3.4 million tons of new crop U.S. soybeans in the first two weeks of August, according to USDA data. There hasn’t been much in the way of Chinese corn purchases this month up until now, but July was big for sales. 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 in size.

“If you look at the last five weeks, 48% of our … total ag sales to the world are going to China,” Doud said in a webinar with Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb.

And when it comes to trade, U.S. and Chinese contacts are strong; USTR officials talk to their Chinese counterparts nearly every day, he said. 

“The dialogue … is very good,” he added. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t have some things that we’re working on and fixing and talking about that aren’t difficult. There are, but there is a great rapport there … We’re doing well.”

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While USTR Robert Lighthizer has not yet met for the first face-to-face meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He that is called for in the “phase one” trade pact, but U.S. and Chinese officials are saying it will happen soon.

The China Daily, a state-run media outlet, quoted Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng Friday saying that the talks will be held “in the coming says,” but did not give a specific date.

The Chinese publication also quoted Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai, saying, “Maybe some people believe that China is just waiting for the result of the US presidential election in November. Let me make it very clear here: We are not waiting for anything, and we are never willing to waste time in waiting."