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China suspends purchase of US agricultural goods

By Mo Jingxi and Liu Zhihua | China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-07 09:26
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Soybeans are loaded into a trailer in Redfield, Iowa, the United States, April 5, 2018. [Photo/IC]

China urged the United States on Tuesday to honor its commitments and create necessary conditions for bilateral agricultural cooperation.

The remark came after Beijing announced on Tuesday that Chinese companies have suspended buying US foodstuffs due to Washington's "serious violation of the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries during their meeting in Osaka".

"We hope the US will earnestly act on the consensus," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement released on the ministry's website on Tuesday.

The suspension came less than a week after US President Donald Trump proposed on Thursday placing new 10 percent tariffs on another $300 billion worth of Chinese goods from Sept 1. Trump's move aroused strong opposition and the possibility of countermeasures from Beijing.

The Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council will not exclude the possibility of imposing tariffs on US agricultural products that were purchased after Saturday, Hua said.

According to the National Development and Reform Commission, Chinese companies had made deals for 130,000 metric tons of soybeans, 120,000 tons of sorghum, 75,000 tons of hay, 60,000 tons of wheat, 40,000 tons of pork and pork products, 25,000 tons of cotton, 5,700 tons of dairy products, 4,500 tons of processed fruits and 400 tons of fresh fruit from the US between July 19 and Friday.

Considering the huge Chinese market, there are bright prospects for importing quality agricultural products from the US, the Ministry of Commerce said in a separate statement, also released on Tuesday.

During their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, in June, President Xi Jinping and Trump agreed to restart trade talks, and the US said it would not impose any new tariffs on Chinese products.

"The meeting spurred optimism because of the constructive consensus they achieved," said Zhou Mi, deputy director of the ministry's Institute of American and Oceania Studies of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

Since then, China has made a series of US agricultural product purchases, "only to face a new round of tariff threats from the US", Zhou said.

It takes efforts from both sides to maintain a consensus, not just from China, Zhou said, adding that the US should take concrete action to demonstrate sincerity for the economic and trade talks, instead of applying pressure.

"Washington should take action to solve problems rather than damaging its credibility," said Huo Jianguo, vice-chairman of the China Society for WTO Studies.

Zhong Nan contributed to the story.

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