China Expert Says Buying $40 Billion in U.S. Farm Goods Viable

Source: By Reuters • Posted: Friday, December 20, 2019

China won’t have a problem buying $40 billion in U.S. farm goods a year despite growing concerns over the feasibility of the deal, an influential Chinese industry expert said.

Shanghai JC Intelligence Co., China’s most clued-in agricultural consultant and researcher, says that the Asian country could spend $18.7 billion a year on U.S. soybeans. It could also buy about $7 billion worth of other grains and related products, more than $2 billion in poultry and chicken feet, and $2.5 billion worth of nuts, JCI said. Cotton, fish and ethanol are also on the table, it said.

JCI said it released its estimates in an effort to remove doubts cast by international media and other institutions over Beijing’s phase one trade deal agreement with Washington. Citigroup Inc. said it’s skeptical that China can purchase $40 billion to $50 billion in American farm goods next year, and even reaching $32 billion would be a “challenging feat.”

While U.S. President Donald Trump expressed confidence China would meet the goal “pretty soon,” doing so would require a huge jump in China’s imports, potentially stretching its capacity to absorb the products. China imported about $24 billion in U.S. agricultural and related products in 2017, the year before the trade war began.

“I have been very skeptical,” said Joseph Glauber, a former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “How would they do it?”

The following are JCI’s estimates on what agricultural products China is likely to buy from the U.S.:

Commodity Volume

(in million tons)


(in billion US dollars)

Soybean 45 18.7
Corn 8 1.8
Wheat 5 1.4
Sorghum 8 1.8
DDGS 8 1.8
Pork, offal 1 2.1
Poultry 0.45 1.2
Cotton 0.8 1.6
Chicken feet 0.5 1.1
Nuts n.a. 2.5
Fish products 0.46 1.5


(including ethanol)

Total 41.3

— With assistance by Shuping Niu