Positive signals of easing trade tensions recently sent by both China and the United States will create better conditions and reduce confrontation ahead of the high-level trade talks in Washington next month, trade experts said on Wednesday.
They made the assessment after official sources announced that China supports companies to continue purchasing a certain amount of U.S. agricultural products, including soybeans and pork, in line with World Trade Organization rules and market principles.
The Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council will continue to exclude certain agricultural products from additional tariffs, according to a Xinhua News Agency report that quoted the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce late on Tuesday.
The U.S. government had recently exempted three lists of Chinese goods from additional tariffs, covering over 400 categories of products.
Because the Chinese and U.S. economies are highly interdependent and play important roles in the global market, exchanging goodwill gestures is an important precondition and can certainly mitigate confrontation during the upcoming round of high-level economic and trade consultations in October, said Chen Wenling, chief economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges in Beijing.
No one can afford to let the tit-for-tat tariffs go unchecked forever, Chen added.
Official Chinese sources also stressed that China has a huge market and the prospects for importing high-quality U.S. agricultural farm products are broad, the Xinhua report said. China hopes the U.S. will continue to meet China halfway and create favorable conditions for bilateral cooperation in agriculture and other sectors, according to the report.
Zhang Xiaoping, country director for China at the U.S. Soybean Export Council, said that any amount of soybeans China buys from the U.S. is not only good news for U.S. soybean farmers, but also will benefit soybean processing plants and consumers in China.
"We hope that the mutually beneficial trade moves can help Beijing and Washington to end the trade dispute as soon as possible and put the bilateral soybean trade back on the right track," Zhang said, adding that farm trade will benefit industries and people in both countries.
His views are shared by Tom Vilsack, CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, who believes that it is time for the two nations to rebuild trust and business ties.
"We have long, strengthening cooperation with the Chinese dairy industry. This kind of cooperation can be reflected in mutual support during the difficult times and constantly closer friendship," he said.
Vilsack highlighted that the U.S. dairy industry attaches great importance to cooperation with China and hopes to strengthen friendly business exchanges.
Affected by rising tariffs, China's total trade volume with the U.S. fell 9 percent to 2.42 trillion yuan ($340 billion) in the first eight months of the year, compared with an 8.1 percent fall during the January-July period, the General Administration of Customs said.
China's demand for various agricultural products will continue to surge because its economy has become more dynamic and resilient, fostered by supply-side structural reforms, said Ding Lixin, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing.
James Zhou, global vice-president of Louis Dreyfus Co, one of the world's major agricultural commodity traders, said: "We have seen major changes in the consumption sector with evolving patterns and steady expansion. For instance, over 400 million Chinese are middle-income earners."
Zhou added that the French company will invest more in enhancing its coffee, cotton and sugar business in China.