China increases US farm imports, dismissing concerns over meeting goals of phase one trade deal

By Wang Cong and Song Lin Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/16 20:58:40

Concerns over phase one trade deal dismissed

Villagers feed chickens at a village of Dapo Township under Rong'an County in Liuzhou, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Oct. 16, 2019. (Xinhua/Huang Xiaobang)

China on Saturday moved again to pave the way to increase purchases of agricultural products from the US by lifting a ban on poultry products, as concerns over the implementation of the phase one trade agreement deepen due to the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in China. 

After a series of risk assessments, China decided to further allow the import of poultry products from the US that meet its relevant laws and regulations, said a statement from China's General Administration of Customs (GAC) on Saturday.

The move on Saturday was an extension of a decision in November 2019 to lift a nearly five-year ban on US poultry meat, which experts said would be conducive to China's increased purchases of US agricultural products as agreed on in the phase one deal and meet growing domestic demand.

"To further expand poultry imports from the US is in line with both the phase one trade deal and domestic meat demand," said Jiao Shanwei, editor-in-chief of, a website specializing in grain news.

In the phase one trade agreement signed last month, China agreed to increase imports of US agricultural and other goods by $200 billion over the next two years. But as the country continues to battle the coronavirus epidemic that has brought the country to a near-standstill, many - particularly in the US - have raised concerns about China's willingness and ability to meet that goal. 

Chinese officials and analysts have maintained that China will be able to fulfill its commitment once the epidemic is over and has so far refrained from invoking a force majeure clause in the agreement to consult with US officials.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in an interview with Reuters over the weekend that China will honor its promises. "Whatever we have agreed to, we will make it happen," said Wang, adding that China's massive market will rebound after the epidemic is over.

The US is bringing new difficulties to the implementation of the agreement by comprehensively restricting bilateral personnel exchanges, Wang said, stressing that the US should consider how to avoid unnecessary trade and personnel restrictions along with the WHO's recommendations, and overcome possible inconvenience in the implementation of the agreement while continuing the epidemic prevention.

"China will keep its promises in the phase one trade deal, while the US should also do so," Wang said.

There is also immediate growing demand in China for poultry imports. The poultry breeding sector in China has taken a hit from the outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) due to transport cuts, fodder shortages and declining demand, Jiao said

Nearly every part of the industry chain has been affected, and this may further push up meat prices, according to Jiao.

Expanding imports could relieve pressure on supply to some extent, but the critical task is to contain the virus and resume production safely as soon as possible, Jiao said, because China's meat consumption mostly depends on domestic supply either for pork or poultry.

China saw surging pork prices brought about by African swine fever (ASF) in 2019, and it has been rolling out measures to assist farmers to resume production while gradually expanding imports of meat to help increase supply, including pork, beef and poultry.

In November 2019, the country removed some restrictions on US poultry imports after more than four years due to an outbreak of bird flu, according to media reports.

According to data from the GAC, China imported 2.1 million tons of pork in 2019, up 75 percent year-on-year. An official from the customs office said at a press conference that overall meat imports showed relatively rapid growth in 2019. 

Meanwhile, China has been enhancing meat supply security. The nation banned imports of hog, wild boar and related products from Greece due to the first outbreak of ASF in the country, according to a GAC statement on Saturday.

Newspaper headline: China increases farm imports

Posted in: ECONOMY

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