China says firms have started inquiring about US agriculture purchases | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 13, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 13, 2019

China says firms have started inquiring about US agriculture purchases

China said on Thursday that Chinese companies have started to inquire about prices for US agricultural goods purchases, in a further sign of a potential de-escalation in a bitter trade war between the two countries.

The move comes before a planned meeting in early October between top US and Chinese trade negotiators in Washington aimed at easing the protracted trade conflict that has disrupted global supply chains and rattled financial markets.

On Wednesday, the United States agreed to delay increasing tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15 “as a gesture of goodwill.” The tariffs were set to increase to 30 percent from 25 percent on the goods.

Speaking at a weekly news briefing in Beijing, Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said China welcomed the US move.

“According to my understanding, Chinese firms have started to inquire about prices for US agricultural goods. (China) hopes both sides would continue to meet each other half way and adopt concrete actions to create favorable conditions for negotiations,” Gao said.

Possible purchases of US farm goods included pork and soybeans, Gao said, both of which are still subject to hefty Chinese duties.

Despite tariffs of 62 percent in place since last year, US exports of pork to China jumped 51 percent in the first seven months of 2019 over last year to 240,000 tonnes, according to the US Meat Export Federation.

In July alone, the US exported about 3,000 containers, or almost 61,000 tonnes of pork, as buyers stepped up purchases amid a huge shortfall in China that has driven prices to record levels.

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