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Trade war

China says already bought 700,000 tonnes of pork, sorghum from US in 2019

A customer points a piece of pork to a staff member at a Walmart in Beijing on Sept. 23.   © Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) -- Chinese companies have already purchased 700,000 tonnes of pork and 700,000 tonnes of sorghum from the United States this year to meet market demand, said a foreign ministry spokesman on Tuesday.

China, the world's top agriculture market, has also bought 320,000 tonnes of cotton, 230,000 tonnes of wheat and 20 million tonnes of soybeans from the U.S., spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily press briefing.

The comments came amid heightened attention on China's purchases of U.S. farm goods, one of President Donald Trump's key demands to resolve a monthslong trade war between the two nations.

Trump said on Friday that China had agreed to purchase $40 to $50 billion worth of agricultural goods from the U.S. in a first phase of an agreement to end the trade war.

China has already brought in 500,000 tonnes of sorghum in the first eight months of the year, almost all from the United States, according to customs data.

Chinese importers made a record large weekly purchase of American pork last week, ahead of the trade talks, including 18,810 tonnes for shipment this year and 123,362 tonnes for shipment in 2020, according to USDA data.

China's pork imports <CNC-PORK-IMP> from all origins for the first nine months of the year were 1.33 million tonnes, up 43.6% from the same period a year earlier, customs data showed on Monday.

USDA also confirmed a net 1.18 million tonnes in soybean sales to China in the week ended Oct. 3.

But purchases booked by Chinese companies may not all get shipped, one analyst cautioned.

"Not all of the pork would be delivered to China this year and it is likely that some of the booking gets canceled later," said Jim Huang, chief executive of China-America Commodity Data Analytics, an independent agriculture consultancy.

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