A delegation of U.S. agricultural industry leaders convened in Beijing to engage with their Chinese counterparts, underscoring the importance of agricultural trade between the two nations despite ongoing political tensions. The gathering included representatives from 11 organizations, including the U.S. Soybean Export Council, U.S. Grains Council, and U.S. Wheat Associates, who met in the wake of non-binding agreements signed by Chinese grain buyers in Iowa, marking a significant step in farm trade relations, particularly in soybeans.
This visit, which has been a rarity due to bilateral tensions and COVID-19 border controls, occurs in anticipation of an upcoming meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden in San Francisco later this month. Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to China, emphasized the significance of agriculture as a stabilizing force in the complex relationship between the two nations.
During their visit, officials from the U.S. Grains Council engaged with China's commerce ministry to address concerns related to China's anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures against U.S. imports of distillers dried grains (DDGS), a protein-rich byproduct from ethanol production used in animal feed. The discussions also touched upon the recent decision by China to drop its anti-dumping case against Australian barley, leaving room for optimism regarding the future of U.S. DDGs in the Chinese market.
Oilseeds and grains, primarily soybeans, constitute the leading U.S. exports to China, totaling $25.4 billion last year, surpassing other commodities like semiconductors. However, Brazil has made inroads into the Chinese market, eroding the U.S. share, thanks to bumper soybean and corn harvests. China has been actively diversifying its sources of agricultural imports since the trade tensions initiated by former U.S. President Donald Trump. The country opened its market to Brazilian corn in late 2022, further expanding its options.
Brazilian soybean imports to China have surged by 18% in the first nine months of 2023 compared to the previous year, while U.S. arrivals increased by 8%. Furthermore, almost 4 million tons of Brazilian corn have reached China, with additional shipments end route.
This delegation, the largest of its kind since 2016, will continue its journey to Shanghai for the annual China International Import Expo, where the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is set to host a pavilion for the first time since the event's inception in 2018. This move reflects the commitment to fostering trade ties and expanding market access in the agricultural sector, despite the complex geopolitical backdrop.