Lauristen: China to end soybean exemption |

Lauristen: China to end soybean exemption

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — China has exempted soybeans from the tariffs it has imposed on other U.S. agricultural commodities, but has ended that exemption in reaction to the tariffs that President Donald Trump has imposed on $300 billion in Chinese goods, Sharon Bomer Lauritsen of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said here today.

Bomer Lauritsen, the assistant U.S. trade representative for agricultural affairs and commodity policy, said she was making the statement at the American Sugar Alliance’s International Sweetener Symposium because overnight the Chinese government had clarified its position on the soybean tariffs.

Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, assistant U.S. trade representative for agricultural affairs and commodity policy, talks about President Donald Trump’s trade agenda this morning at the International Sweetener Symposium. (Jerry Hagstrom/The Hagstrom Report)

China has bought a small amount of soybeans from the United States this year, but this week the government said it will not make any new agricultural purchases from the United States.

The Trump administration seeks “structural changes” in China’s practices related to intellectual property, forced technology transfer and cybersecurity, but also changes to “unwarranted barriers” to agricultural imports, Bomer Lauritsen said in a speech on the Trump administration’s trade agenda after noting that she is a civil servant, not a political appointee.

Bomer Lauritsen said that, while China had imported vast quantities of U.S. soybeans in the past, it has kept out many other agricultural products, a point that Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey made to the same group on Monday.

China “is not resistant” to biotechnology, she said, but wants to control and develop it themselves.

Through “antiquated procedures,” she said, China requires U.S. companies to turn over information that is normally considered confidential so that its scientists can grow and test products themselves.

While Trump has expressed enthusiasm for a free-trade agreement with Brazil, that proposal would have to include the other countries in the Mercosur South American trade bloc, Bomer Lauritsen said.

Although in the past, the United States has included the sugar program in the list of items subject to negotiation, as long as Congress keeps it in place, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will negotiate to keep the program operating at zero cost to the taxpayer, she said.

–The Hagstrom Report

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