Sat, May 13, 2017 - Page 10 News List

China, US to trade beef, poultry, LNG

‘HERCULEAN ACCOMPLISHMENT’:A trade agreement is to end China’s ban on beef imports from the US that was imposed in 2003 following a case of mad cow disease

AP, WASHINGTON

China is finally to open its borders to US beef while cooked Chinese poultry is closer to hitting US supermarket shelves as part of a US-China trade agreement.

The US would also allow US companies to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) to China as part of the bilateral agreement reached following US President Donald Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) last month.

It covers a range of barriers from agriculture to energy to the operation of US financial firms in China.

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross hailed the agreement as “a Herculean accomplishment” forged in record time.

“This is more than has been done in the whole history of US-China relations on trade,” Ross told reporters on Thursday evening at the White House. “Normally trade deals are denominated in multiple years, not tens of days.”

In Beijing, Chinese Vice Minister of Finance Zhu Guangyao (朱光耀) told reporters that the early results of the agreement showed that economic collaboration between the two sides “couldn’t be closer.”

However, while the agreement touches on many of the trade barriers US companies have long complained about, it remains to be seen how far China will go to allow more US exports.

Previous US administrations have hailed market-opening agreements only to be left disappointed.

“The key in these negotiations is specifics that are enforceable — literally the devil is in the details,” said Scott Mulhauser, the former chief of staff at the US embassy in Beijing.

“The more these agreements include real, concrete outcomes rather than platitudes, rehashing old ground or punts to the future, the better they are. American companies, workers, farmers and more are eager for more access to Chinese markets, and they’ll look to ensure reality matches the rhetoric of these promises,” Mulhauser said.

Trump has made the US’ massive trade deficits, and specifically the gap with China, a major issue in his campaign and during the early days of his administration.

He has said that the US’ perennial trade deficits have cost millions of factory jobs and pledged to take a tougher stance in trade negotiations to lower the imbalances.

Under the agreement, the US would welcome Chinese companies negotiating agreements to purchase US-produced LNG.

The US Department of Energy has already authorized the shipment of 543.7 million cubic meters per day of natural gas exports to China and other interested countries, the US Department of Commerce said.

A number of US companies are seeking permits to build facilities to process liquefied gas, which would allow the US to become a net exporter of gas, something it has not been since the 1950s.

China is attempting to turn to natural gas as a way to reduce its dependence on coal and combat the country’s extensive air pollution.

The move would allow China to diversify its supply and provide a significant market for US suppliers — though the expansion could boost prices for US consumers.

Ross downplayed the impact, pointing to the decline in natural gas prices.

“If you look at it on a historical basis, there’s plenty of room to go back up,” he said. “It’s not as though this is going to wreck anybody’s pocketbook.”

The agreement would also ease import restrictions on agricultural goods, including ending China’s ban on beef imports that was imposed in 2003 after a case of mad cow disease.

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