On Friday, China announced that for the first time in its history that it will import rice from the United States.
The move comes amid decades-long turmoil between the countries have escalated into a trade war President Trump is determined to win.
From the Washington Examiner:
Beijing said on its customs authority’s website Friday that imports of brown rice, polished rice, and crushed rice from the U.S. are now allowed, provided they meet China’s inspection standards and are approved by the United States Department of Agriculture as well. It did not indicate how much rice it was willing to buy, however.
China currently imports rice from other Asian countries, having opened its agricultural market when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. Its regulations, however, effectively banned imports from the U.S. On top of that, China imposed a 25 percent tariff on U.S. rice in July. That tariff apparently remains in effect. In retaliation, the U.S. enacted a 10 percent tariff on Chinese rice in September.
President Trump has repeatedly mentioned that the trade negotiations between him and Chinese President Xi were progressing along.
In a tweet on Saturday, he said that “big progress” was being made. “Deal is moving along very well,” Trump added in the tweet. “If made, it will be very comprehensive, covering all subjects, areas, and points of dispute.”
As the Wall Street Journal reports, trade negotiators of the two countries are “starting to flesh out a deal that could defuse trade tensions.”
According to the report, negotiators will meet again in Beijing starting in the first week of the new year for additional days of talking.
If no deal is reached, U.S. tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods are due to increase to 25% from 10% on March 2, potentially having a big impact on electronics, furniture, machinery and other U.S. industries that rely on Chinese imports. It could also deepen a slowdown in China’s economy, which would have broad consequences for global growth.
A team of U.S. trade officials, including Deputy Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish and Treasury Undersecretary David Malpass is expected in Beijing the week of Jan. 7 for several days of talks. If those negotiations make progress, Chinese trade officials, led by Vice Premier Liu He, will follow up with talks in Washington the following week, or soon after that with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The trade representative’s office is now leading trade talks, though Treasury is also playing a significant role. For instance, Mr. Mnuchin lobbied successfully before Christmas to keep Chinese firms from being hit with sanctions for cyber espionage on the same day that the Justice Department announced indictments of two Chinese citizens allegedly tied to a state-sponsored campaign to steal sensitive information from U.S. businesses.
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.