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China gets to two-thirds of ‘phase one’

For 2021, the target rises to $43.5 billion.

China failed to meet its “phase one” target for imports of U.S. food, agriculture, and seafood products despite a surge in purchases that began late last summer, said the Peterson Institute for International Economics on Thursday. Chinese customs data show food and ag imports totaled $23.5 billion in 2020, or about two-thirds of the goal of $36.6 billion.

For 2021, the target rises to $43.5 billion. The “phase one” agreement, signed a year ago, de-escalated the Sino-U.S. trade war. However, tariffs remain in place in both nations, and there have been no negotiations to resolve U.S. complaints of predatory trade practices by China.

Economist Joe Glauber of the IFPRI think tank said U.S. food and ag exports to China will probably increase this year. “If you get up to the high 20s [of billions of dollars], that would be a good year,” he said. Food and ag exports in 2020 were close to the $23.9 billion recorded in 2017.

The USDA has forecast a record $27 billion in ag exports to China, largely due to greater demand for soybeans and corn, during fiscal 2021, which ends on September 30. Soybeans usually make up half of overall U.S. ag exports to China, the world’s largest importer of soybeans and cotton.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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