Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Trade tensions rise: China probes imports of U.S. sorghum

Less than two weeks after President Trump imposed steep tariffs on solar panels, most of which come from China, and two months after his administration's decision to investigate trade in Chinese aluminum-alloy sheets, China launched a probe into U.S. sorghum imports -- a pointed reminder that U.S. farmers are likely to suffer in a trade war.

"On Sunday, the Ministry of Commerce launched an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation, potentially leading to hefty tariffs on imports of the ingredient used in livestock feed and the fiery Chinese liquor baijiu," Dominique Patton and Michael Martina report for Reuters. "Taking aim at sorghum at a time when the global grain market is in surplus and growers around the world are scrambling to find homes for their products hits at Trump's core political base while avoiding damaging supplies of a product critical at home."

The U.S. imported more than $1 billion worth of sorghum to China last year, making up more than 90 percent of the total sorghum China imports. Most of it comes from Texas and Kansas. A trade war would likely hurt U.S. soybean growers too. Soybeans are the U.S.'s most valuable agricultural export, valued at more than $12 billion last year.

"They believe that if they ratchet up the heat in key red states where there's a large agricultural community that's voted for Donald Trump that it will somehow change the situation," Paul Burke, Asia director at the U.S. Soybean Export Council, told Reuters.

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