China-U.S. relations
China-U.S. relations

U.S. and Chinese trade industry leaders found cause for optimism at the 2nd U.S.-China Agriculture Food Trade Forum held in the City of Industry in the western U.S. state of California on Thursday.

There was a definite buzz in the air reflecting the recent upbeat news that China and the United States have achieved substantial progress in their lastest round of trade talks, raising cautious optimism for an eventual deal.

“We are optimistic. Things are looking a little better,” Ed Harlan, assistant commissioner of the Tennessee state department of agriculture, told Xinhua.

“There have been some sales to China in the last two or three weeks. And it seems like the talks are a little friendlier. We are happy about that,” Harlan said, smiling.

“It’s important to have open dialogue between the United States and China,” he added.

Considering that U.S. trade with China is huge, the assistant commissioner said the forum is “an opportunity for everyone.”

U.S. agricultural leaders noted that the prospects in a post-trade war world are bright as China’s fast-growing, middle-income population raise demand for good quality foodstuffs.

But in 2018, China’s imports of U.S. agricultural products decreased by 32.8 percent year-on-year, with some crops hit harder than others. U.S. soybean imports got mashed, declining by nearly 50 percent.

Imports of California cherries decreased by 46.7 percent in 2018, while China’s total imports of cherries increased by 83 percent, of which imports from Chile increased by 137 percent, said Liu Haiyan, commercial counselor of China’s Consulate General in Los Angeles.

Andrew Jones, a state senator of Alabama, said he is now looking forward to all the good that would come when the trade war ends, like the easing of economic pressure on his more hard-hit constituents.

“It’s definitely our farmers have felt the brunt of the trade war,” he told Xinhua, voicing his hope that the U.S.-China trade friction will be resolved as soon as possible so that American farmers can get their goods to market.

“Exports to China are very important for us, especially, soybeans, cotton and poultry,” he noted. “Trading freely with China is nothing but a win-win for all of us.”

Tennessee farmers have looked for other markets and found some, but most took heavy losses when their biggest buyers for soybeans — the Chinese — had to buy elsewhere, Harlan said.

“Obviously, from a business perspective and for businesses, it would be good to get these things worked out,” he added. “If we can better the lives of everyone, then that’s what we need to do.”

Now that negotiations seem to be back on track, the coming resolution of the trade friction will be a cause for great celebration. “We are going to party like rock stars,” he quipped. Enditem

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