Chinese agriculture organization vows to ‘resolutely stand with the country’ in trade war

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/5/31 23:22:07

China's largest agricultural international trade organization vowed Friday to stand with the country's decision to protect the interests and rights of the industry and country, calling for cooperation in bilateral agricultural trade amid an ongoing trade war between the world's two largest economies.

"We noticed that China has made enough preparations and will take all necessary countermeasures in the face of US trade protectionism, and we will resolutely support the government's decision to protect the country and industry's rights," Cao Derong, president of China Chamber of Commerce of I/E of Foodstuffs, Native Produce and Animal By-products (CFNA), said during a high-end seminar held in Beijing.

The chamber has more than 6,000 member enterprises which generated more than half of China's total agricultural imports.

Cao noted the US has been China's biggest agricultural import sources for years, accounting for more than 20 percent of China's imports, but that number has been declining since a trade war was initiated by the US in 2018. 

"I've asked my US counterparts many times why the US ignores the strong call of US farmers and industry associations, a complimentary and promising trade relationship between China and the US, as well as the WTO rules, and seriously hurts the interests of agricultural industries of the two sides," Cao said. Their answers are the same, which is China is one of the US agricultural products' most important markets, US famers have benefited from that trade and they oppose the US government's behavior, he said.

US soybean farmers are "frustrated" with the escalating situation. "We cannot withstand another year in which our most important foreign market continues to slip away and soybean prices are 20 to 25 percent, or even more, below pre-tariff levels," said John Heisdorffer, chairman of the American Soybean Association in a statement published on May 13.

China slapped a 25 percent tariff on US soybeans in July last year as part of a tit-for-tat trade war between the world's two largest economies.

"What that means for soybean growers is that we're losing. Losing a valuable market, losing stable pricing, losing an opportunity to support our families and our communities," said Davie Stephens, president of the association, in the statement.

Agricultural products from the US to China declined over 32 percent since 2018 to the level of 10 years ago, even as China's agricultural imports reached a record high of $136.7 billion in 2018. The declining trend continued in the first quarter of 2019, with that number further decreasing by 68.7 percent, and imports of soybeans, cotton and corn decreased by more than 50 percent, according to Cao.

Cao noted that the trade war has also hindered the expanding walnut trade between China and the US. US walnut prices have dropped by more than half and some US farmers bear the losses.

"China will continue to lower the tariff level, reduce non-tariff barriers for various products and welcome all kinds of high-quality products from all over the world," Cao said. "China does not pursue a trade surplus, and we are willing to import more competitive agricultural products and services to boost trade balance."

"Only cooperation and exchanges will benefit the two, and a trade war leads to nowhere," Cao said.

Global Times


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