Chinese importers increased their purchases of U.S. agricultural goods ahead of the trade talks in Washington, USDA reported on Thursday. USDA confirmed a net 1.18 million metric tons in soybean sales to China in the week ended Oct. 3 and record sales of pork, including 18,810 metric tons for shipment this year and 123,362 metric tons for shipment in 2020.
U.S. pork sales to China, the world’s largest consumer of pork, had been disappointing following forecasts for massive purchases this year, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, domestic prices are skyrocketing in China as the deadly African swine fever (ASF) virus continues to wreak havoc on the country’s hog herd, tightening pork supplies.
“Nobody’s ever seen these kinds of (pork sales) numbers,” Bob Brown, an independent U.S. livestock analyst, told Reuters. “Our prices right now are pretty modest especially compared to Europe in particular, which is their other big supplier.”
Despite the steep 72% tariffs China has implemented on imports of American pork in retaliation for U.S. duties on Chinese goods, some traders say American prices still look attractive.
Meanwhile, U.S. soybean sales have also increased ahead of the trade talks in at least four waves of active buying since early September. Beijing awarded some importers waivers to buy U.S. beans that allow imports without steep retaliatory tariffs.
According to USDA, private exporters sold 398,000 metric tons of U.S. soybeans to China in its second daily “flash sale” of soybeans this week.
USDA data shows China imported more than 13 million metric tons of U.S. soy in the 2018-19 marketing year that ended Aug. 31 and has bought nearly 5 million metric tons more in this current season.
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