The most recent round of talks between the U.S. and China to resolve their ongoing trade war showed some signs of progress Tuesday, with Beijing announcing that it would accept some genetically-modified crops that it had previously banned. China has long been accused by the U.S., the world’s leading producer of genetically-modified foods, of using concerns over their safety as a pretext to ban imports.
“Talks with China are going very well!,” President Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.
The U.S. sent a delegation to Beijing Monday to lay the groundwork for further talks later this month. It was the first direct talks the two countries have had since Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed last month to restart negotiations. Trump has imposed a March deadline to make progress or else he will raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent, up from 10 percent.
Agriculture has been a key issue in the trade talks, with Beijing using its leverage in that area against the U.S. China is the world’s largest purchaser of soybeans but has sharply cut imports from the U.S. Imports fell from 7.1 million metric tonnes in October 2017 to just 300,000 last October. It purchased another 500,000 last month, but imports are still far previous years’ numbers.
Tuesday’s announcement on GM food was “a goodwill gesture towards the resolution of the trade issue,” China representative of a U.S. agricultural trade group told Reuters, adding, “It’s been in the system for a long time but they chose today to release this good news.”