U.S. Corn, Poultry `On Table' During China Talks, Perdue Says

(Bloomberg) -- China is expected to make its next round of American soybean purchases “relatively quickly,” while corn, ethanol, beef and poultry also have been part of trade discussions between the two countries, according to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

China on Friday committed to buying an additional 10 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans, a sign of progress on trade talks between the nations. Exports of U.S. agricultural goods to China have fallen precipitously since the trade war and subsequent tariffs between the two countries ratcheted up over the last year.

“I expect that to be done expeditiously,” Perdue said, referring to the additional purchases. “We are talking about old crop soybeans,” he told reporters Saturday at the National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic in Schaumburg, Illinois.

U.S. Corn, Poultry `On Table' During China Talks, Perdue Says

U.S. and Chinese officials discussed a variety of farm goods, Perdue said. Feed grains such as corn -- and ethanol and dried distiller grain solubles made from the crop -- as well as beef and poultry are “on the table” for discussions, he said. He also said rice and sorghum were discussed, noting any sort of potential sales are dependent on a final U.S.-China trade deal.

While China may be more open to buying U.S. pork since many hog herds were culled after the spread of African swine fever over the past several months, the meat may not be a “major component” of discussions because the Asian country has endeavored to become more self-sufficient in the food staple, he said.

The additional 10 million tons of soybean purchases by China may come before the spring, based on how quickly the country bought supplies to fulfill prior commitments it made since President Donald Trump met his counterpart Xi Jinping in December, Perdue said.

U.S. Corn, Poultry `On Table' During China Talks, Perdue Says

Perdue expects China’s purchases of soybeans to be so-called old crop, meaning the supplies U.S. farmers harvested in the fall. U.S. inventories are expected to double this year amid rising yields and a drop in exports to China.

“Frankly the way the Chinese operate, I would not be surprised if they had not already begun to place some orders,” Perdue said. “I am optimistic and hopeful that these 10 million metric tons will be done in the very near future,” he said.

The buying is a “good-faith effort on China’s behalf, particularly” given South America has begun its harvest already, Perdue said. He originally announced the purchases in a tweet on Friday, adding that they were “indications of more good news to come.”

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