US Trade Representative Katherine Tai Says US Agricultural Trade With China “Unpredictable”
U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai said in a speech this week that agricultural trade with China is unpredictable and that the United States will discuss with China its performance under the phase one trade deal. .
In the first phase of the US-China trade deal, concluded in 2019, China agreed to buy up to US $ 50 billion worth of US agricultural products.
China “has made commitments that benefit certain American industries, including agriculture, which we must uphold,” Tai said Oct. 4 during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “I am committed to meeting the many challenges that await us in this bilateral process in order to achieve significant results. But above all, we must defend – to the end – our economic interests. “
Tai said US agricultural trade with China is “an unpredictable industry for US farmers and ranchers who have come to rely heavily on this market.”
In separate comments, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said U.S.-China relations are complex and it is important for the U.S. to have a diverse trade relationship in worldwide.
“There are so many complexities in the Chinese relationship, it’s fair to say that at any time something can impact and affect this relationship,” said Vilsack. “It is essential that we continue to look for ways to diversify” to expand market opportunities in the world “and not to depend too much on one customer”.
China is expected to buy record amounts of US agriculture and food exports this year, but still below the amount agreed to in the trade deal.
In his speech and in an announcement on the USTR website, Tai detailed the first steps taken to realign US trade policies toward China with US priorities:
“First of all, we will discuss with China its performance under the phase one agreement. China has made commitments that benefit certain American industries, including agriculture, which we must enforce. The president Biden will continue to promote our economic interests and build confidence in American industry.
“Second, while continuing the application of the first phase, we will restart our process of targeted tariff exclusions to mitigate the effects of certain Section 301 tariffs which have increased costs for Americans.
“Third, we continue to have serious concerns with the (People’s Republic of China) that were not addressed in the Phase 1 agreement, particularly with respect to its state-centric and not market, including Beijing’s non-market policies and practices that distort competition by supporting state-owned enterprises, limiting market access, and other coercive and predatory practices in commerce and technology.
“Even as we work to enforce the terms of the first phase, we will raise our broader concerns about Beijing’s non-market policies and practices such as abuse of state-owned companies, anti-competitive behavior and subsidies, theft of intellectual property. United States directly and in coordination with our allies and partners. We will defend American economic interests by using the full range of tools at our disposal and developing new tools as needed.
“And finally, we know we can’t do it alone. We will continue to consult and coordinate our efforts with allies and partners who share our keen interest in ensuring a level playing field, working collectively to set the rules of the road for commerce and technology in the 21st century, and strengthen the global market for our workers and businesses.