The latest round of U.S.-Chinese trade talks resumes this week in Beijing, and administration officials are expressing optimism that a real deal could be reached within a month. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says he is cautiously optimistic about that time frame, but he realizes, “It’s sooner rather than later for us because the cries out there about the challenges in ag country, they’re really hurting, and we need that trade.”
And it could be sooner with President Trump saying last week his Chinese counterpart President Xi could be visiting within weeks. There is speculation a new trade deal could be signed with such a visit.
Sec. Perdue says the good news is, “Secretary Mnuchin, Ambassador Lighthizer are headed over there and then they will be returning the week after, which bodes good news for us. Then I’m hopeful that President Trump and President Xi can meet later on.”
While the talks move on, so does the African Swine Fever debacle within the Chinese hog herd. Over the years U.S. pork exports to China have grown, and even though there has been a downturn during the lengthy trade dispute, USDA Undersecretary Greg Ibach sees a recent uptick in Chinese demand for US pork.
“We’re hoping that as part of the negotiations that we provide more opportunities to grow exports in agricultural products and pork would be one of those,” he said. “But we have seen an uptick in Chinese purchases of pork here recently from the United States, and we believe that is partly because of the fact that ASF has affected the Chinese pork supply.”
Pork is an important protein in Chinese diets, so he feels strongly there will be more opportunities to move more pork into that market. Although there are no vaccines yet for African Swine Fever, Ibach says there is some promising work being done as scientists try to develop one.