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U.S. 2020 farm good exports to China miss Phase 1 trade goal - USDA

CHICAGO, Feb 5 (Reuters) - The United States exported $28.75 billion of agricultural goods and related products to China in 2020, data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed on Friday, missing the $36.5 billion targeted under the Phase 1 trade deal.

Beijing and former U.S. President Donald Trump signed the deal in January 2020 after two years of acrimony and a steep slump in imports by one of the biggest buyers of U.S. farm goods.

The missed target was widely anticipated despite a recent uptick in sales of corn and soybeans to China. U.S. President Joe Biden's administration has said the deal is under review.

The Phase 1 trade agreement came after a nearly 18-month trade war, in which U.S. and Chinese goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars were hit by tit-for-tat tariffs, slowing commerce between the world's two largest economies.

Under the deal, Beijing promised to boost purchases of U.S. agricultural and manufactured goods, energy and services by $200 billion above 2017 levels over two years.

Analysts at the time expressed reservations about the farm goods target, which was 25% above 2013's all-time high of $29 billion.

Though farm exports started last year at a slow pace, sales picked up sharply in the second half, typically the key buying season for U.S. soybeans, the country's top farm export to China.

The data showed that soybean sales reached $14.16 billion in 2020, less than the record $14.88 in 2012 but well above $8 billion from 2019.

China customs data earlier showed U.S. soybean imports in 2020 of 25.89 million tonnes, worth $10.6 billion.

Biden is expected to maintain pressure on China but trade is not expected to be the driving force in his negotiations with Beijing that it was under Trump, a former trade official told Reuters.

Chinese purchases last year were also fueled by a huge increase in meat purchases, after a disease outbreak in China's hog herd, the world's largest, caused a massive shortfall.

The sale of pork to China in 2020, when U.S. workers were falling sick and dying in U.S. slaughterhouses, angered Democratic politicians.

U.S. exports of pork and pork products to China surged 75% in 2020 to a record $2.28 billion, USDA data showed.

Corn imports, generated by strong demand to feed China's recovering hog herd, jumped too, reaching $1.2 billion, up from just $55.5 million in 2019 and just below a record of $1.3 billion in 2012.

(Reporting by Mark Weinraub, Dominique Patton, Karl Plume, and Shreyansi Singh. Editing by Mark Heinrich.)

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