China will stop buying American soybeans as the trade war between the world’s two largest economies escalates — potentially dealing another blow to beleaguered US farmers.
China, the world’s largest importer of soybeans, had been buying limited US crops as a goodwill gesture as trade negotiations continued, but now that they’ve stalled no new orders are being placed, Bloomberg News reported, citing sources.
But China has no plans to cancel earlier purchases of American soybeans.
China bought about 13 million metric tons of US soybeans after President Xi and President Trump agreed to a truce in December.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in February that China would buy another 10 million tons of American soy — but the purchases have stopped.
China was deliberately targeting Farm Belt states that supported Trump, and the tactic appeared to be hurting farmers’ bottom line, according to the report.
US farm income dropped 16 percent last year to $63 billion, about half the level it was as recently as 2013.
Trump has ordered the federal government to subsidize the farmers, and an aid package totaling $16 billion was announced earlier this month.
The president, meanwhile, said Thursday the US was doing well in trade talks with China and that Beijing wanted to make a deal with Washington.
“China would love to make a deal with us. We had a deal and they broke the deal. I think if they had it to do again they wouldn’t have done what they did,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House to deliver a commencement speech at the Air Force Academy in Colorado.
The Chinese government has vigorously disputed that version of events, saying that it was unreasonable demands from the US trade delegation that derailed the talks.
Trade tensions between Washington and Beijing escalated sharply earlier this month after the Trump administration accused China of having reneged on its previous promises to make structural changes to its economic practices.
Washington later slapped additional tariffs of up to 25 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to retaliate.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he likely will travel to Beijing “in the near future” to continue negotiations.
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