U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to meet on the sidelines of the Group of 20 leaders’ summit beginning on Nov. 30, the first such talks since the trade war between the two countries flared.
However, it is unclear whether a “ceasefire” in the escalating conflict can be reached. Meanwhile, the impact of adjusting to the tariffs Beijing has slapped on U.S. imports, imposed in retaliation for Washington’s punitive levees on Chinese products, is starting to spread within China, and the country is preparing for what looks to be a long battle.
“When I heard that the price of pork would probably rise due to the trade war, I really started to worry,” said 38-year-old businesswoman Qing Jia, her expression clouding. She had just bought 500 grams of pork ribs for 18 yuan (roughly 300 yen) at Sanyuanli Market , the “kitchen of Beijing.” Her husband and junior high school-age son will eat any dish if its pork, she explained. In China, pork is the meat of choice, and while the cost has yet to rise, Beijing residents are sensitive to price changes.
Roughly one hour from Beijing by car in Sanyuan, Hebei province, pig farmer Li Jianmin, 54, lamented, “The more pigs I raise, the more I fall into the red.”
Each year, Li ships some 2,000 pigs, but the price of the soybean cake for their feed has risen 20 to 30 percent over the last year. The cost to feed one pig has risen by roughly 100 yuan, or 1,600 yen, on average, pushing his operation below the break-even point.
China is the world’s largest consumer of soybeans. Oil from the beans is made for human consumption, and the remains are used as animal feed. Over 80 percent of the beans are grown abroad. Last year, China imported 95.54 million metric tons of the beans, 53.3 percent of that from Brazil and another 34.4 percent from the U.S.
However, Beijing leveled a 25 percent tariff on American soybean imports in retaliation against U.S. tariffs. The attack was aimed at Trump’s support base among farmers, but it has been a double-edged sword. Now, China is planning out how to raise domestic soybean production.
After the Trump administration announced its third round of tariffs against China on Sept. 24, President Xi visited three provinces in China’s northeast to call for the strengthening of the country’s soy self-reliance, now seen as essential amid American protectionism. The provincial government of the grain-producing Heilongjiang then nearly doubled subsidies to farmers to increase soybean production. Meanwhile, to decrease soy consumption, the ratio of soybeans in animal feed was cut across the board.
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