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

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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 cngrain.com, 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.

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