Ag Secretary addressed U.S. producers’ concerns on trade with China

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday addressed U.S. producers’ concerns that China is continuing to fall short on its commitments to purchase U.S. agricultural goods.

“We obviously have some unfinished businesses with reference to phase one, and we continue to press China to increase their purchases,” Vilsack testified during a House Agriculture Committee hearing, referring to the U.S-China trade deal signed under the Trump administration.

Asked by Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) about whether China is keeping up with its current commitments to buy U.S. agricultural goods, Vilsack replied, “No.”

The USDA chief said China was $13 billion behind on purchases. “And there are seven key areas where they have yet to perform,” he added, including on biotech approvals and ethanol tariffs.

Vilsack also said the USDA and Biden administration is continuing to work with China and Mexico to address ongoing trade disputes over U.S. corn exports and other issues.

He took the opportunity to tout a recent trade resolution with Canada over dairy products, which he said will benefit U.S. farmers.

What’s next: U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is in talks with her Chinese counterpart in an effort to bring China into compliance with the deal.

President Joe Biden acknowledged on Wednesday during a press conference that many American businesses want to see tariffs on China eased, but such a step is “uncertain” because China still hasn’t fulfilled all of its commitments.

“I’d like to be able to be in a position where I could say they’re meeting the commitments, or more of the commitments, and be able to lift some of it. But we are not there yet,” he said.