Completion of a “fair” trade agreement with China could result in an additional $12 billion of agriculture exports to the communist country, according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
“It's a little bit of a roller coaster with China,” Perdue said referring to the on-again-off-again nature of tariffs and retaliatory tariffs between the U.S. and China over the past year.
Over the weekend it seemed as though USDA undersecretary for trade and foreign agriculture affairs Ted McKinney and chief ag negotiator Greg Doud, with their teams, made some progress to come to a consensus on ag trade with China.
“The two sides have had good communication in various areas such as agriculture and energy, and have made positive and concrete progress while relevant details are yet to be confirmed by both sides,” Chinese officials said in a statement.
Still, government leadership in Beijing is not willing to make a deal until broader trade issues are worked out with Washington, according to Pro Farmer’s Jim Wiesemeyer.
“U. S. and Chinese trade negotiators were discussing how to get Beijing to carry out recent promises to purchase moreAmerican farm and energy products, with Washington pushing for long-term contracts that Chinese officials continued to balk signing,” he explained in a deep dive on Chinese trade issues. “A U.S. advance team, including several USDA officials, pressed their Chinese counterparts to commit to multiyear purchase agreements, but to no avail.”
Chinese officials are unwilling to move forward on any trade deal until the threat of increased tariffs is off the table.
“If the United States introduces trade measures, including an increase of tariffs, all the economic and trade outcomes negotiated by the two parties will not take effect,” Chinese officials said.
According to Perdue, there are a lot of non-tariff barriers that exist between the U.S. and China.
“We're trying erode those [barriers] and get it where we can do free trade and fair trade,” he explained. “We don't have a problem with complying with another nation’s standards if they’re international standards. We don't want artificial standards based on protectionism to keep us out of the market. So, we're hoping we get that done.”
“A lot of hungry mouths” could mean another $8 billion, $10 billion or $12 billion of ag exports heading to China, Perdue said.
Still, Chinese officials are willing to source their needs from other countries if they can’t come to an agreement with the U.S., according to Xinhua News Agency.
“To meet the people's ever-growing needs for a better life and the requirements of high-quality economic development, China is willing to increase imports from other countries,” they wrote.