China will not increase its annual global import quotas for certain grains because of the phase one trade deal with the US, a senior Chinese agriculture official told Caixin on Saturday.
China’s promise to expand imports of American agriculture products as part of the phase one China-US trade deal has sparked speculation that the nation may adjust or cancel its global quota for corn in order to meet a target for imports from the US. To meet the target, the US says China will be required to dramatically expand imports. Han Jun, a member of the China-US trade negotiation team and vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs, denied those suspicions at a conference in Beijing, saying: “They are quotas for the whole world. We will not change them just for one country.”
In recent months, US President Donald Trump and his administration have repeatedly said China would buy $40 billion to $50 billion of American agricultural products every year after the phase one deal is signed. But the Chinese side has not confirmed this aspect of the agreement, saying in December that the deal text remained under review.
China’s annual global import quotas for wheat, rice and corn have not been used up in recent years, so there is significant room for import expansion regardless of quota adjustments. Han noted in a briefing last month that China imported just $10.4 billion of American agricultural products in the first 10 months of 2019, after steep declines over the last two years amid escalating tariffs. He said that China will expand imports of American soybeans, pork and poultry after signing the trade deal, in a bid to make up for domestic supply shortfalls.