US soybean sales to China down 94 percent amid Trump tariffs: report

U.S. soybean exports to China are down by 94 percent this year amid President Trump’s trade war with Beijing.

The New York Times reported Monday that the latest federal data, which tracked up to mid-October, showed a dramatic drop in sales to China, which is by far the world’s biggest soybean importer.

However, federal data through September show that soybean exports are up 1 percent over all this year above where they were at this time in 2017. 

{mosads}Eighty-seven percent of the reported 110 million tons of soybeans China consumed in 2017 were imported, largely from the U.S. or Brazil.

Though many soybean farmers expressed trust in Trump and his protectionist trade agenda, others told the Times that they were unhappy with the effect Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs have had on their business. 

“I’m trying to follow and figure out who the winners are in this tariff war,” said Greg Gebeke, who farms 5,000 acres outside of Arthur, N.D. “I know who one of the losers are and that’s us. And that’s painful.”

Trump has imposed tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods and has threatened to tax the entirety of the country’s U.S. exports, which are worth roughly $500 billion. China has responded with tariffs on $110 billion in U.S. goods and could expand its retaliation to stricter investment restrictions for American firms.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said late last month that the Department of Agriculture will not extend into 2019 an up-to-$12 billion aid package that was announced to help farmers impacted by Trump’s policies.

“Farmers are very resilient and adept in making their planning and marketing decisions based on the current market,” Perdue told reporters.

“These facts are known now … So farmers, even under financial duress, will make their best business decision for 2019 without the expectation of a market facilitation program.”

He said the department will continue to look “at market conditions” but saw no need to extend the funds.

Though trade talks between the U.S. and China stalled earlier this year, both countries recently signaled that productive discussions may take place within the month.

On Friday, Trump expressed his confidence that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping could reach a deal in negotiations later this month.

“I think we’ll make a deal with China,” Trump said. “We’re getting much closer to doing something. They very much want to make a deal.”

On Monday, Xi made similar statements at a trade expo, promising to lower tariffs, broaden market access, and increase imports.

Still, top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow tempered expectations, telling CNBC on Friday, “We’re not on the cusp of a deal.”

—Updated at 6:03 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Sonny Perdue soybean tariffs U.S. agriculture U.S.-China trade war

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