By Sean Ellis
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
China has agreed to start buying substantially more farm products from the United Sates, according to the Trump administration.
According to a Dec. 1 statement released by the office of the president’s press secretary, “China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but every substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial and other product from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries.”
The United States had a $375 billion trade deficit with China last year.
“China has agreed to start purchasing agricultural product from our farmers immediately,” the statement said.
In return, President Donald Trump agreed to leave U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of products from China at the current 10 percent rate and not raise the rate to 25 percent, as he has threatened to do.
Both nations, according to the statement, agreed to immediately start negotiations on structural changes addressing forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture.
The two sides agreed they will try to have an agreement completed within 90 days. If that doesn’t happen, the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent.
In response to the development, Trump tweeted, “Farmers will be a very big and fast beneficiary of our deal with China. They intend to start purchasing agricultural product immediately. We make the finest and cleanest product in the world, and that is what China wants. Farmers, I love you!”
China imported $21 billion worth of agricultural products from the U.S. last year, making China the No. 2 export market for U.S. farm products, behind Canada ($22 billion).
The two nations earlier this year announced hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs on each other and China’s proposed tariffs largely targeted the United States’ agricultural sector.
This is the second time this year the administration has announced that China intends to begin purchasing substantially larger amounts of U.S. ag and energy products.
On May 19, the White House issued what it called a joint statement that said both sides agreed on meaningful increases in United States agriculture and energy product exports to China.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue followed that up by telling reporters May 23 the U.S. was pushing China to increase the amount of agriculture commodities it imports from the United States by about $25 billion annually.
Trump tweeted at the time, “China has agreed to buy massive amounts of additional farm/agricultural products – would be one of the best things to happen to our farmers in many years.”