In 2016 alone, the Chinese have imported $14 billion worth of soybeans from the United States, reports CNN Money in a recent article. Soybeans are just one example of the need for agricultural products in the Middle Kingdom. The large Chinese population of about 1.4 billion needs immense quantities of food.
Yet agricultural trade could be affected in negative ways. Last month, the Trump administration put tariffs on imported Chinese solar panels. Now, the White House is considering tariffs on imports of Chinese aluminum and steel. In response, the Chinese Commerce Ministry indicated that if this “affects China’s interests, we will take necessary measures to defend our rights.”
China is already investigating whether the Unites States is dumping sorghum, an agricultural product. When it comes to cultivation of sorghum, the American farmers are world leaders with 2016 production of 480 bushels.
Would the Chinese authorities give up on imports of American agricultural products when it comes to feeding the world’s largest population? This isn’t that likely. Still, it worries farmers, many of whom voted for Donald Trump.
Despite tough rhetoric, “nobody wants a trade war,” as William Zarit, chairman of the Chinese branch of the American Chamber of Commerce, has said.
What is likely is that the world’s two economies will both cooperate and trade with each other in the foreseeable future.