Against the backdrop of China-US trade negotiations, latest figures from China's Customs authority show the country's trade surplus with the rest of the world grew last year, while trade with the US dropped.
ZOU ZHIWU Vice Minister of General Administration of Customs In 2019, China's foreign trade volume was 31.54 trillion yuan, up by 3.4 percent year on year. To be specific, export trade volume saw a five percent growth compared with 2018, and import grew by 1.6 percent to 14.31 trillion yuan.
That works out at a trade surplus of nearly three trillion yuan, a rise of over twenty five percent. Meanwhile, China's total trade with the United States over the year dropped over ten percent from 2018 levels. As both sides prepare to sign the phase one trade agreement, China is widely expected to boost its imports of US agricultural produce, including meat. CGTN's Xu Mengqi reports from Shanghai.
With the Chinese New Year less than 2 weeks away, it's the season for some festive shopping. And given China's multi-million-ton pork shortage in 2019, some are joking that the meat protein would make the best Spring Festival gift this year. But while China's large import purchases were driving pork prices to an all-time high in some supplying countries, the US was missing out because of punitive duties.
XU MENGQI Shanghai Having visited several of Shanghai's supermarkets that are known for their imported goods, it's been hard to find US meat products. The only place where I could find them is this one which sells premium pork and beef. But even here, they are saying they used to have pork chops from the US, and what they have now is from countries such as Canada and Spain.
Xu Wei has been importing meat from abroad for 2 decades. He says US pork and beef used to make up 20 to 30 percent of his total imports. Now, it only accounts for 3 to 5 percent.
XU WEI General Manager Shanghai New Source Intl. Trading Co., Ltd. After the swine fever outbreak, we enlarged our pork imports on a growth scale of 100 to 150 percent. In 2018 we imported around 25,000 tons of pork. In 2019 it was close to 50,000.
On January 1st, China dropped the most-favored-nation duty rate from 12 to 8 percent for frozen pork imports. But EU suppliers, which dominate the imported market share, still enjoy a 60-percentage point duty advantage over the US. Xu says, however, he is ready to stock up on US meat if tariffs get rolled back substantially.
XU WEI General Manager Shanghai New Source Intl. Trading Co., Ltd. American agricultural products would still be competitive if there were no punitive tax. Compared with the EU, their costs and price-performance ratios are still good.
On the other hand, traders who are more optimistic about China agreeing to buy more US meat are already making preparations, says law professor Yi Bo, who has been closely following the trade negotiations.
YI BO Associate Professor Southeast University Law School According to my knowledge, some traders and farmers in the US are preparing to export poultry or pork meat to China. I helped answer their questions and told them the China customs regulations and rules.
For now, all eyes are on Wednesday's signing of the phase 1 agreement and the details of the final text. XMQ, CGTN, Shanghai.