Skepticism Continues About Chinese Commitment to Purchase U.S. Agricultural Goods

While President Trump has been displaying optimism about the prospective growth of agricultural goods exports from the United States to China, skeptics on both sides of the world have been questioning the actual amount of agricultural goods that China has committed to purchase. Uncertainties still abound about the time frame to restore the quantities of exports that were promised by the U.S. president.

According to Robert Lighthizer, the Trump administrations trade representative, the value accounts for USD 40 billion for each year. On the other hand, President Trump claims the figure to be more than USD 50 billion. On the other hand, farm exports from the United States to China have never gone above USD 26 billion in any year before.

Further, following the start of the trade war between the two countries last year, China has increased its purchases of agricultural goods from other countries such as Argentina, and Brazil among others. Consequently, the government of China may already be part of international contracts that it will find difficult to get out of if it intends to increase purchases of American goods to the level of USD 40 billion.

Questions Over U.S. Capabilities to Supply Adequate Goods

Chad Hart an agricultural economist at the Iowa State University questioned claims by the administration: “History has never been even close to that level. There’s no clear path to get us there in one year.” Similarly, Cui Fan, a trade specialist from the University of International Business and Economy in Beijing stated: “The figure of $40 billion is larger than I expected, and I wonder whether the United States can ensure the full supply of the products.”

The United States farming sector has suffered the brunt of the USD 120 billion retaliatory tariffs set up by the Chinese government following July 2018 after Donald Trump imposed tariffs worth USD 360 billion on Chinese imports. The Chinese tariffs targeted soybeans and other agricultural goods and services which are key to supporters of the president in rural America. Farm imports to China have continued to be well below pre-trade war levels since then.