PEKING (Reuters) – China is still considering import restrictions on US soybeans in retaliation for the imposition of trade duties by Washington, said Paul Burke, director of US soybean export Asia, Thursday after a meeting with the Department of Agriculture.
The ministry requested an informal meeting in Beijing with the council, Burke told Reuters over the phone. At the meeting, which took place on Monday, Chinese Director of the US Trade Group, Xiaoping Zhang, and officials from the Department of International Relations of the Ministry participated.
In his comments, Burke dismissed a report in the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong that the council's meeting with the ministry had been part of official talks to protect American soybeans.
"The Department of Agriculture wanted to discuss our view of the soybean industry in terms of tariffs and the supply and demand situation," Burke said. "We are cautiously optimistic soybeans will not be targeted, but they are still on the table."
A trade escalated between the two main economies in the world, with US President Donald Trump preparing for tariffs on $ 50 billion Chinese imports over the alleged forced transfer of intellectual property.
Soybeans were the largest US agricultural export to China last year, totaling more than $ 12 billion. China is the world's largest soybean importer and the US is the second largest supplier.
In a Thursday editorial, China Daily said Beijing could target a wide range of US companies from agriculture to aircraft, automobiles and semiconductors when the conflict escalates.
The comments came when Purdue University in the US released a study on behalf of the Council on Thursday, in which tariffs would cause an annual economic loss in the US of $ 1.7 to $ 3.3 billion.
"China's economic well-being, even when it charges a tariff, is in some cases as much or more than for the US," said Wally Tyner, Purdue Agricultural Economist, co-author of the report.
Chinese soybean imports from the US could decline by up to 71 percent if the country imposed trade restrictions, the study said.
Click here for the study: bit.ly/2J2Tlkl
Reporting by Dominique Patton; Writing by Josephine Mason; Arrangement by Aaron Sheldrick and Christian Schmollinger