US farm produce claims unsubstantiated, goods lack price competitiveness: NDRC

By Wang Yi and Chu Daye Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/5 20:38:40

US farm produce claims untrue, goods lack price competitiveness

A cargo ship loaded with soybeans at a port in Nantong, East China's Jiangsu Province in May. Photo: IC

China's top economic planner said on Monday that US claims about not purchasing its agricultural produce are untrue. The real reason for some US produce not being exported to China is because the items are not price competitive. 

Cong Liang, a senior official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said in an interview with state-owned broadcaster China Media Group that the claims are groundless, as China has already purchased US agricultural products such as soybeans.

China has been implementing its pledges on such purchases since the meeting of top leaders of China and the US in Osaka, Japan, and a total of 2.27 million tons of US soybeans are on ships bound for China. 

In August, another 2 million tons of soybeans will be loaded in the US. Those shipments mean that Chinese companies will have essentially finished all their soybean purchases of 14 million tons as specified in contracts before September, Cong said.

Since July 19, Chinese companies have also been asking for quotas for a broad range of US agricultural produce including soybeans, sorghum, wheat, corn and ethanol.

As of Friday night, buyers and sellers had struck deals for 130,000 tons of soybeans, 120,000 tons of sorghum, 75,000 tons of dry grass, 60,000 tons of wheat, 40,000 tons of pork, 25,000 tons of cotton, 5,700 tons of dairy products, 4,500 tons of processed fruit and 400 tons of fresh fruit.

All these products are under a tariff exemption process filed by Chinese importers to Chinese tariff authorities in order to lift China's retaliatory tariffs on the US, noted Cong.

Cong said that the Chinese side has demonstrated willingness for cooperation and made reasonable progress after the meeting of top leaders and agricultural cooperation brings win-win benefits to the two sides. 

Cong said the reason why no more deals have been struck is that many US products have no price advantage with Chinese retaliatory tariffs placed on them.

For instance, ethanol faces a tariff of 70 percent, and even removing the 25 percent tariff China placed on the product in retaliation for the US Section 301 investigation, the US product is still 30 percent more expensive than the market average. There is no commercial practicality in making a deal, Cong said. 

US soybean exports to China fell to just 5.9 million tons in the first half of 2019, the lowest level for 15 years.

Li Guoxiang, a research fellow at the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday that the root cause of US agricultural products' lack of price competiveness is the tariffs US imposed on China initially.

"Whether the deals can be made are mainly market decisions of Chinese companies, where the government can't intervene," Li said, adding that US should take actual moves to solve the problem rather than making groundless accusation.

The US has shown few sincerity and taken no measures to promote the trade talks and ease the bruising trade tensions. Instead, the US has announced new plans to impose more tariffs on Chinese goods, said Bai Ming, a deputy director of the International Market Research Institute of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

 The US should take steps to fulfill its pledges, such as easing restrictions on Chinese technology giant Huawei, to create favorable conditions for the ongoing trade talks, Bai said.

Newspaper headline: US farm produce claims untrue, goods lack price competitiveness


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