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China Back in the Market for US Gas and Farm Goods After Waivers

Feb. 20, 2020
Beijing's waivers for American producers now exempt from retaliatory tariffs show China is starting to fulfill its phase one trade deal promises.

China is back in the market for American agricultural commodities after issuing a list of products that will be eligible for tariff waivers, according to people familiar with the matter.

American exporters sold four sorghum cargoes to China after buyers bid for supplies to be shipped in the first half of the year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Importers also inquired about more sorghum supplies and other products such as soybeans on Wednesday, a day after asking about wheat prices in a move that sent Chicago futures rallying.

The new interest in American goods follows China’s publication of a list of 696 American products -- including soybeans, pork, beef, corn, wheat, crude oil and liquefied natural gas -- that will be eligible for relief from retaliatory duties imposed by Beijing in its tit-for-tat trade war with Washington.

The waivers are further evidence that Beijing plans to stick to the pledges made in the phase-one deal despite the spread of the deadly coronavirus. On Monday, Bloomberg News reported that China was considering making some purchases of U.S. agricultural goods at the end of February or early March.

While Chinese buyers were checking soybean prices, they didn’t show firm bids as supplies from Brazil were still more competitively priced, the people said. Still, there have been some recent sales of American beans from ports at the Pacific Northwest as a result of logjams delaying exports from the South American nation.

There were also no deals concluded for wheat Tuesday, the people said. China has been buying the grain in France, Canada and Australia in recent months in a sign it plans to better administer import quotas set by the World Trade Organization.

By Isis Almeida and Alfred Cang

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