Source: Global Times Published: 2019-3-11
China-US trade talks are speeding toward a deal, as warming signs from the two countries' soybean trade have helped create a good environment for negotiations, Chinese observers said on Friday.
Chinese state-owned enterprises bought at least 500,000 tons of US soybeans on Thursday, Reuters reported on Friday, citing two traders familiar with knowledge of the deals.
It is first order by China since the US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on his personal twitter account on February 22 that China had committed to buying an additional 10 million metric tons of US soybeans, said the report.
He Weiwen, an executive council member of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies, hailed such signals sent by the Chinese side as displaying China's sincerity to expand imports from the US.
It shows that China is "taking action" to solve the trade gap between the two sides, He said, adding that this will create a good environment for the two countries to push forward their trade negotiations.
The soybean trade between the US and China has been hit hard, mostly because of China-US trade disputes which resulted not only in higher import tariffs on US soybeans, but also due to the rising value of US dollars, Ma Wenfeng, an agricultural expert, told the Global Times on Friday.
China, the world's largest buyer of soybeans, imported 11.83 million tons of soybeans in the first two months of this year, down by 14.9 percent on a yearly basis, according to statistics revealed by the Chinese customs on Friday morning.
In February, China imported 4.45 million tons of soybeans, down from 7.37 million tons in January, the customs data showed.
According to He, China's order will benefit the US, because the US President Donald Trump needs to appease US soybean farmers.
Ma also said that the US excels at soybean production due to its large-scale farms, which gives it an advantage in soybean exports.
Reuters also cited a senior official at the US Department of Agriculture as saying on Wednesday that trade negotiations between the US and China are progressing well.
The New York Times on Thursday cited two sources as saying that China and the US have agreed to the broad outlines of an agreement that would roll back tariffs in both countries, but some of the details like the timing of the removal of tariffs have not been hammered out.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed optimism that trade talks with China will be successful, noting that he's "very hopeful that in the coming days and weeks, there will be a significant announcement," according to a report of the voanews.com.
Chinese experts have also expressed optimism over the prospects of the talks. Cong Yi, a professor at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, said that there is a "a high probability" the two countries will reach an agreement soon to end the trade dispute that has almost lasted a year.
He Weiwen said that he's "moderately optimistic" about the prospects of the trade talks between China and the US, considering that the two countries both have shown an inclination to reach an agreement and are trying to "meet each other halfway."
In US dollar terms, China's exports slumped by 20.7 percent on a yearly basis to $135 billion in February, while imports slumped by 5.2 percent to $131 billion.
He Weiwen is a senior fellow from Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.