By Sarah Gonzalez, Director of Communications and Digital Media
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Oct. 23 jointly issued an interim report highlighting the progress made over the past eight months in implementing the agricultural provisions of the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement.
The report said China has purchased more than $23 billion in agricultural products, which amounts to approximately 71 percent of its target under the Phase One Agreement first implemented in February. However, USTR and USDA also noted that that number includes products that have been exported as well as products for which sales have been reported but that have not been shipped yet.
“What we have done is combine actual export numbers with the sales indicated in the (USDA) weekly Export Sales Reports (adjusting to eliminate any double counting) then, since the weekly sales reports only cover approximately 80 percent of U.S. agriculture sales, we have proportionally adjusted upward to cover products not included in the weekly reports,” USTR said in the report.
Notably, the agencies also reported that China has implemented at least 50 of the 57 technical commitments, such as those involving sanitary and phytosanitary issues, under the Phase One Agreement. These technical commitments are under “Chapter Three” of the agreement, which contains specific commitments to reduce and eliminate structural, non-tariff barriers to U.S. agricultural products in China’s market, including for meat, poultry, seafood, rice, dairy, animal feed and feed additives, pet food, and products of agricultural biotechnology, USTR said.
According to the report, as of Oct. 8, outstanding export sales this year “far exceed the number reported in the same period in 2017,” which is the year used to determine baseline sales for the Phase One Agreement. USTR also noted that: “Outstanding sales of corn to China are 8.7 million tons, an all-time high, while outstanding sales of soybeans to China stand at 17.4 million tons, double 2017 levels.”
Among “topline” accomplishments cited in the interim report are: 1) lifting of bans on imports of U.S. poultry meat, including pet food containing poultry products; 2) removing the ban on imports of U.S. beef and beef products from animals older than 30 months and removing all references to age restrictions on China’s internal list of beef products eligible for export; 3) allowing imports of U.S. barley for processing; 4) lifting restrictions on imports of U.S. pet food containing ruminant material; 5) expanding China’s internal list of U.S. beef and pork products eligible for import, including processed meat products; 6) recognition of the U.S. system of oversight of dairy food safety; and 7) signing a regionalization agreement that, if highly pathogenic avian influenza or virulent Newcastle disease is detected in a particular region of the United States, China will continue to allow U.S. poultry meat imports from unaffected regions.