China to impose extra tariffs on US soy, beef and pork

Fawad Maqsood August 24, 2019

BEIJING/CHICAGO: China said on Friday it will impose more tariffs on US agricultural goods, its latest retaliatory measure aimed at Midwestern states whose voters helped elect President Donald Trump in 2016.

As China’s government had already banned companies from buying US farm goods, the tariffs were seen as mostly symbolic. Still, escalating tensions concerned a farm sector that has lost a key export market and seen incomes plummet.

Trump ratcheted up tensions on Friday with a series of tweets that said he was ordering US companies to look at ways to close their operations in China. The tweets roiled global markets.

An extra 5% tariff on US soybeans will be applied from Sept. 1, and additional 10% duties on US wheat, corn and sorghum will take effect from Dec. 15, China’s commerce ministry said. China is the world’s biggest soybean importer and bought $12 billion worth of the crop from the United States the year before the trade war.

“There have been almost no private company purchases of US soybeans for a year now,” said Ryan Findlay, CEO of the American Soybean Association. “It is past time for both parties — China and the United States — to step up, stop tariffs, and find resolution.”

China will also levy extra 10% tariffs on US beef and pork from Sept. 1, according to lists published by the commerce ministry on its website.

The latest tariffs, which follow US duties on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, threaten to prolong the trade war between the world’s top two economies that has raised concerns about slowing global growth.

China last year imposed retaliatory tariffs that remain in place on imports of a range of US farm products, including on soybeans and pork. Those duties slashed the export of US crops and prompted the Trump administration to offer as much as $28 billion in federal aid to compensate American farmers for losses.

“Any escalation in the trade dispute with China is a major concern to US pork producers,” the National Pork Producers Council said in a statement.

The previous tariff on US pork had been 62%.

China’s commerce ministry said on Aug. 5 that Chinese companies had stopped buying US farm products, escalating the dispute between the countries.

Soybean futures were down 1 percent. China has largely turned to South America for soybeans since the trade war began last year and US soybean sales to China in 2018 dropped 74% from the previous year.

“To me, it’s totally political and all psychological,” said Dan Basse, president of consultancy AgResource Co in Chicago. “A ban was more destructive than raising tariffs.”

Farmers on an annual tour to survey Midwest corn and soy before the upcoming US harvest expressed frustration with the Trump administration this week. Their grievances range from the tariffs to criticism of a government corn crop estimate they said did not adequately take severe spring flooding into account.

Roger Johnson, president of the Washington-based National Farmers Union, said Trump is destroying export markets for US farmers.

“Farmers are just getting shafted,” Johnson said. “The economics in agriculture are just devastating right now.”

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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