Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who’s leading China’s efforts in the trade talks with the United States, will be back in Washington next week. An Agri-Pulse report says he’ll be across the table from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Earlier this week on the sidelines of the United Nation’s General Assembly in New York, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “We’re looking forward to those conversations.”
Deputy Ag Secretary Steve Censky said the conversations that took place last week with Chinese officials were “positive and productive.” Several media reports say Chinese buyers purchased between 600,000 and 1.5 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans on Monday for delivery between October and December. The U.S. Soybean Export Council reports that China relaxed import tariffs for the purchases to make sense, given a price spread that favored U.S. soybeans.
Mnuchin admitted Monday that it was a White House decision to call off a planned trip a Chinese delegation was going to take to Montana and Nebraska this week. Mnuchin said officials “didn’t want any confusion around the trade issues.”
China has recently been buying a lot of meat. The Wall Street Journal says their recent purchases are pushing up the prices of beef, pork, and poultry around the globe. Meat buyers are increasing their activity after African Swine Fever hit the country hard and reduced the size of the world’s largest pig herd by more than a third. Domestic pork prices have jumped in China and meat imports are rising in response and placing a strain on global meat supplies.
For example, Brazil poultry shipments to China have jumped 31 percent compared to last year. Retail prices for chicken breasts, thighs, and legs have increased roughly 16 percent. European meat buyers are paying five percent more for pork because more of their domestically produced supplies are heading to China.
American shoppers haven’t felt the impact yet, but that may change. Futures prices recently rose after Chinese officials say the country could exempt some U.S. pork and other agricultural goods from punitive tariff increases. Many American meat companies have watched as European and South American competitors have raced each other to supply China’s pork needs.