Imported soybeans seen at a port in Nantong, East China's Jiangsu Province in August, 2018. (Photo: IC)
China has re-started buying US agricultural products including millions of tons of soybeans, Chinese media reported on Sunday, a move analysts said would send a sound signal to the US side and create an optimistic atmosphere for the upcoming trade talks in Shanghai.
But they noted that the positive gesture does not represent a compromise by China, which should further prepare to address a slew of economic and trade issues with the US.
China has started purchasing US agricultural products as millions of tons of soybeans are being shipped to China after the two heads of state met during the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan late June, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday, citing information from the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce.
Earlier, the US announced that it would exempt 110 Chinese industrial goods from tariffs and allow US companies to continue to supply Chinese companies, the report said.
Since July 19, some Chinese companies have been inquiring with US exporters about the prices of agricultural goods including soybeans, cotton, pork and sorghum and transactions have already been made, the report said.
The relevant enterprises have filed applications for a waiver of tariffs on these agricultural products from the US and the Tariff Commission of the State Council, China's cabinet, will deal with it in accordance with appropriate procedures, the report said.
Domestic companies will continue to inquire about the prices of more products such as corn and dairy items. As long as the prices are reasonable and the products are of good quality, it is expected that there will be new purchases, according the report.
A tit-for-tat trade conflict between the world's two largest economies has brought rising harm to both countries and to restart buying US agricultural products shows China's sincerity and effort in addressing bilateral trade issues, Mei Xinyu, a veteran analyst close to the Ministry of Commerce, told the Global Times on Sunday.
The market behavior sent positive signals and created a good atmosphere for the upcoming trade talks, but it is not a compromise from the Chinese side, Zhuang Rui, deputy dean of the University of International Business and Economics' Institute of International Economics in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday.
It shows that economic and trade ties between China and the US cannot be easily separated, Zhuang said.
The US trade delegation is scheduled to arrive in Shanghai for the 12th round of trade consultations between China and the US. The new round of talks, which are scheduled to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, will be the first since negotiations to resolve a year-long trade war stalled in May.
The basis for reaching an agreement is mutual respect and it is not only China that should show its sincerity -- the US should also care about Chinese concerns, Zhuang said.
Agricultural product trading is one of the core concerns between China and the US, analysts said, noting that although China made a good gesture this time, a large amount of purchases can be made only if the two sides can sign an agreement.
Experts also said that if the trade talks go nowhere this time, it is possible that China may not continue to make such good gestures that could help US farmers.
Mei said it's possible for the two countries to sign an agreement on trade issues by the end of 2019, which, however, does not mean that bilateral economic and trade relations would proceed in a stable manner.
"It is likely that there will be new problems propping up even if an agreement is reached and bilateral trade disputes would not end soon," he said, noting that China should prepare to address more economic challenges with the US.
Chinese departments said that the US should take concrete measures to implement the relevant US commitments and create favorable conditions for bilateral economic and trade cooperation, Xinhua said.