Washington responsible for halt in China-U.S. agricultural trade

China Plus Published: 2019-08-06 14:37:29
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Note: The following article is taken from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs".

China announced on Monday that it would not rule out the possibility of levying additional tariffs on U.S. agricultural products purchased after August 3, and related companies have halted purchases of farm produce from the United States.

[Photo: IC]

[Photo: IC]

The announcement was made in defense of China's national dignity and its legitimate rights and interests in response to the additional 10 percent tariff that Washington said it would impose on 300 billion U.S. dollars of goods imported from China starting next month. China's response is further evidence that extreme pressure will not work in solving the China-U.S. trade dispute. Rather, it will only trigger countermeasures from Beijing.

Bilateral agricultural trade is highly complementary and mutually beneficial. Progress was made towards resolving the trade dispute after the meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump in Osaka in June, when China decided to resume imports of U.S. farm produce in line with domestic demand. By the end of last month, 2.27 million tons of American soybeans were shipped to China. From July 19, companies in China began to make inquiries with exporters in the United States regarding additional orders of agricultural products. As of last Friday, they had agreed to purchase from US suppliers a total of 130,000 tons of soybeans, 120,000 tons of sorghum, 75,000 tons of hay, 60,000 tons of wheat, 40,000 tons of pork and pork products, 25,000 tons of cotton, 5,700 tons of dairy products, 4,500 tons of processed fruits, and 400 tons of fresh fruit. And the buyers had lodged applications with China's government asking for tariff waivers for these imports.

Beijing has shown its sincerity in implementing the consensus reached between the two presidents at the G20 summit in Osaka. But Washington has once again spoiled the positive momentum with new attacks on China in the form of the additional 10 percent tariff due to come into effect in September. America's farmers will have to bear the consequences of Washington’s irresponsible move.

Trade unions representing soybean, corn, and wheat farmers in the United States have previously issued a joint statement opposing the introduction of extra tariffs on China, pointing out that what American farmers need is markets, not tariffs. An article carried by the Los Angeles Times has said that the trade war is wrecking the domestic farm economy. And former White House economic adviser Gary Cohn had pointed out that the trade war is not hurting China's economy. Instead, it is backfiring on the United States.

China offers the world a market of 1.4 billion people. In the first half of this year, the country's agricultural import and export were worth 108.65 billion U.S. dollars, and had grown by 1.4 percent over last year. Exports stood at 36.81 billion U.S. dollars, down 2.5 percent, and imports were at 71.84 billion U.S. dollars, up 3.5 percent. The rise in imports, boosted by growing consumption, reflects the increasing opportunities China’s market offers the world. If the decision makers in Washington truly care about the interests of America's farmers, they had better carefully consider the gains and losses of their approach. If they did so, they would realize that the best thing to do is get back on the right track, negotiate sincerely, and create the proper conditions for bilateral agricultural cooperation.

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LU Xiankun Professor LU Xiankun is Managing Director of LEDECO Geneva and Associate Partner of IDEAS Centre Geneva. He is Emeritus Professor of China Institute for WTO Studies of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and Wuhan University (WHU) of China and visiting professor or senior research fellow of some other universities and think tanks in China and Europe. He also sits in management of some international business associations and companies, including as Senior Vice President of Shenzhen UEB Technology LTD., a leading e-commerce company of China. Previously, Mr. LU was senior official of Chinese Ministry of Commerce and senior diplomat posted in Europe, including in Geneva as Counsellor and Head of Division of the Permanent Mission of China to the WTO and in Brussels as Commercial Secretary of the Permanent Mission of China to the EU. Benjamin Cavender Benjamin Cavender is a Shanghai based consultant with more than 11 years of experience helping companies understand consumer behavior and develop go to market strategies for China. He is a frequent speaker on economic and consumer trends in China and is often featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Channel News Asia. Sara Hsu Sara Hsu is an associate professor from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She is a regular commentator on Chinese economy. Xu Qinduo Xu Qinduo is CRI's former chief correspondent to Washington DC, the United States. He works as the producer, host and commentator for TODAY, a flagship talk show on current affairs. Mr. Xu contributes regularly to English-language newspapers including Shenzhen Daily and Global Times as well as Chinese-language radio and TV services. Lin Shaowen A radio person, Mr. Lin Shaowen is strongly interested in international relations and Chinese politics. As China is quite often misunderstood in the rest of the world, he feels the need to better present the true picture of the country, the policies and meanings. So he talks a lot and is often seen debating. Then friends find a critical Lin Shaowen criticizing and criticized. George N. Tzogopoulos Dr George N. Tzogopoulos is an expert in media and politics/international relations as well as Chinese affairs. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre International de Européenne (CIFE) and Visiting Lecturer at the European Institute affiliated with it and is teaching international relations at the Department of Law of the Democritus University of Thrace. George is the author of two books: US Foreign Policy in the European Media: Framing the Rise and Fall of Neoconservatism (IB TAURIS) and The Greek Crisis in the Media: Stereotyping in the International Press (Ashgate) as well as the founder of chinaandgreece.com, an institutional partner of CRI Greek. David Morris David Morris is the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commissioner in China, a former Australian diplomat and senior political adviser. Harvey Dzodin After a distinguished career in the US government and American media Dr. Harvey Dzodin is now a Beijing-based freelance columnist for several media outlets. While living in Beijing, he has published over 200 columns with an emphasis on arts, culture and the Belt & Road initiative. He is also a sought-after speaker and advisor in China and abroad. He currently serves as Nonresident Research Fellow of the think tank Center for China and Globalization and Senior Advisor of Tsinghua University National Image Research Center specializing in city branding. Dr. Dzodin was a political appointee of President Jimmy Carter and served as lawyer to a presidential commission. Upon the nomination of the White House and the US State Department he served at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. He was Director and Vice President of the ABC Television in New York for more than two decades.