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Trade War Escalates: China Halts Purchases of U.S. Farm Products

The U.S., China trade war escalated this week as news articles reported that China has halted its purchases of U.S. agricultural products.


On Thursday, President Trump announced additional tariffs on Chinese imports.

And on Friday, Bloomberg writer Ryan Haar reported that, “White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow played down the impact on U.S. consumers of additional tariffs on Chinese imports and suggested Beijing could strengthen the case for avoiding them being applied next month if they bought U.S. agricultural products.

“‘From our talks internally, that would be a plus,’ Kudlow said Friday in an interview on Bloomberg television. ‘That would be a very good plus if they start buying agricultural products in size. It would certainly help the story.'”

China Halts Purchases of U.S. Farm Products

However, Reuters writer Koh Gui Qing reported this week that,

China has halted its purchases of U.S. agricultural products and will not rule out levying import tariffs on American farm imports purchased after Aug. 3, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said early on Tuesday.

“The moves by China represent the latest escalation in its trade row with the United States that has unnerved global markets and investors.

“‘Related Chinese companies have suspended purchases of U.S. agricultural products,’ China’s Ministry of Commerce said in an online statement posted shortly after midnight in Beijing on Tuesday.”

And Financial Times writers Yuan Yang, Archie Zhang and Emiko Terazono reported on Monday that, “Beijing has asked its state-owned enterprises to halt US agricultural goods purchases in a fresh blow to US farmers and traders after President Donald Trump further ramped up tariffs on Chinese imports.”

U.S. agricultural exports, year-to-date and current months- Volumes. USDA- Economic Research Service (August 5, 2019,

The FT article explained that, “Before the trade war began, China was the largest importer of US soyabeans, buying 25m-30m tonnes a year. However shipments have plummeted: since the start of the crop year in September it has agreed to buy only 14m tonnes, of which 10m has been shipped, according to official US data. The US delivered just 5.3m tonnes of soyabeans to China in the first five months of this year, against 15.2m tonnes in the first five months of 2018.

“The Chinese ministry of commerce said last week that since July 19, some Chinese companies — including state-owned enterprises — were in the process of making ‘new purchases’ of US soyabeans, cotton, pork and sorghum, and that some deals had already been reached.

But now, China’s state-owned companies had ‘received an order’ to halt purchases, said two people who knew of the order. State-run Xinhua news agency reported that Chinese companies had suspended purchases of US farm products as a retaliatory measure.”

Also Monday, Bloomberg writer Mike Dorning reported that, “Major American farm groups sounded an alarm Monday after China halted U.S. agriculture imports, signaling a key Republican political constituency is losing patience with President Donald Trump’s escalating trade war.

“Zippy Duvall, president of the the American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation’s largest and most influential general farm organization, called China’s import cut-off ‘a body blow to thousands of farmers and ranchers who are already struggling to get by.'”

The Bloomberg article added that, “The administration tried to blunt the trade war’s financial toll on farmers with $12 billion in trade aid last year and another $16 billion in trade assistance this year.”

On Tuesday, Bloomberg writers Mario Parker and Mike Dorning reported that, ”

A day after American farm groups showed signs of losing patience with Donald Trump’s trade war with China, the president hinted at more aid beyond the $28 billion so far announced if the spat lingers.

“‘As they have learned in the last two years, our great American Farmers know that China will not be able to hurt them in that their President has stood with them and done what no other president would do,’ Trump said in a tweet. ‘And I’ll do it again next year if necessary!'”

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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