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U.S., China Strike Trade Deal On Beef, Poultry And Natural Gas

May 12, 2017
Originally published on May 12, 2017 4:17 pm
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The Trump administration has signed a trade deal with China. The U.S. gets to export its beef and natural gas to a growing market. In return, among other things, China gets to send us its cooked poultry. We'll have more on what could turn up in our grocery stores in a moment. First, the administration says this deal could help narrow the trade deficit with China, as NPR's Jackie Northam reports.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: The deal is the result of trade talks that sprang from a meeting in April between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago. They agreed a deal needed to be reached within 100 days or by July 16. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the trade deal, saying it was accomplished in record time.

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WILBUR ROSS: It was pretty much a Herculean accomplishment to get this done. This is more than has been done in the whole history of U.S.-China relations on trade.

NORTHAM: Under the agreement, China will open its market to U.S. beef importers by mid-July. Ross says American beef producers have been locked out of China's enormous market since a mad cow scare in 2003.

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ROSS: It's a very big market. It's at least a $2.5 billion market that's being opened up for U.S. beef.

NORTHAM: For its part, the Trump administration will allow imports of cooked poultry from China. Ross says the Department of Agriculture believes this will not cause major harm to the U.S. poultry industry. The deal will also allow China easier access to the U.S. banking system and let American energy companies export LNG to China, most of which it currently buys from Russia.

Scott Kennedy, a China specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here in Washington, says the deal is...

SCOTT KENNEDY: A productive first step in addressing some long outstanding problems that the U.S. has in its relationship with China. And there's some important elements to the agreement that they announced, but it is really just a first step.

NORTHAM: Kennedy says the deal doesn't address core problems the U.S. has in its relationship with China. He says China's industrial policy is discriminatory. It's trying to export and invest abroad where there are almost no barriers while limiting access to its own markets, which hurts U.S. industries.

KENNEDY: And that's not just for traditional industries like steel and aluminum. In fact, it's more important for high-value sectors like services and for advanced technology areas where the U.S. is a global leader.

NORTHAM: There may be more progress when negotiators from the U.S. and China meet again this summer to continue work on trade issues. Jackie Northam, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.