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China increases imports of US pork, soybeans and crude oil despite tensions

作者:admin 2020-09-24

China increases imports of US pork, soybeans and crude oil despite tensions

Workers check bottles of soybean oil made from imported US soybeans at a production plant in Qufu, East China's Shandong Province. Photo: VCG

China has increased its imports of US pork, soybeans and crude oil, all of which are important items in the phase one trade deal signed in January. The rise reflects the smooth progress of the deal and expanding demand for these products in China, despite deteriorating bilateral relations, experts said.

According to the research unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence, China's imports of US pork increased 370 percent in August year-on-year through Brazilian meat processing company JBS SA. 

Gao Guan, deputy director of the China Meat Association, confirmed to the Global Times that agricultural trade between China and the US has been virtually unaffected. 

The largest suppliers of imported pork for China are Brazil, the US and Germany, according to Gao, and as China's pork supply was heavily affected by African swine fever, its imports of the meat surged to account for more than 10 percent of total pork consumption this year, compared with only 4-5 percent in 2016. 

However, given the small proportion of imported meat to total domestic consumption, even if all meat imports were stopped, the Chinese market would not be particularly affected, Gao said, noting that China is also striving to expand its own pork production to meet domestic demand.

Two other important items listed in the trade deal - soybeans and crude oil - also saw a rebound. The total amount of soybeans from the US will probably reach about 40 million tons in 2020, according to media forecasts, which would be around 25 percent more than in 2017.

According to Chinese customs data, China's imports of US crude oil spiked to a record high of 867,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July from 143,000 bpd in June. In September, China could import up to 900,000 bpd, according to oilfield services company Canary.

Dong Xiucheng, director of the China Oil & Gas Center with the China University of Petroleum, told the Global Times that China will continue to buy American crude oil and petroleum products as promised under the first phase of the trade agreement for the time being, even though bilateral tension is rising.

"With the first phase of the trade agreement, the trade war between China and the US has been put on hold," said Dong.

Even if future trade problems occur, the impact on China would be very small. "If we don't buy crude oil from the US, we can still buy it from elsewhere," said Dong, noting that the international oil market is oversupplied, and China has no shortage of oil.

The phase one deal was signed in January, under which China agreed to purchase $36.5 billion worth of US agriculture products, up from $24 billion in 2017.

However, Tian Yun, vice director of the Beijing Economic Operation Association, noted that so far, it is hard to tell whether China can meet the target by the end of this year. 

The quota can only be met if there is enough resilience of the US supply chain, which would prove that the US government has the determination to control the pandemic.

"In addition, increasing imports does not mean importing goods at all costs, regardless of quality and safety. What we can do is to provide convenience to lift restrictions," said Tian. 

"In the end, the first phase agreement can only be a goal and an expectation," said Tian, noting that one cannot force Chinese companies to buy US products.

Newspaper headline: Imports from US show large gains

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