Already, uncertainty looms for China/U.S. trade truce

As the world sits in anticipation for the trade war to end between China and the U.S., many remain uncertain around a recently announced trade truce. When it comes to agriculture, a lot of eyes were focused on the agreement that China would purchase $50 billion worth of U.S. agricultural goods as part of the three-phase deal.

To dive further into what this deal means for Canadian trade, RealAg Radio host, Shaun Haney spoke with Dr. Charles Burton, senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, who specializes in comparative politics, government, and politics of China, Canada-China relations and human rights.

When asked if this trade deal between the two countries would have much impact on Canada’s trade, Dr. Burton pointed to trade deals in the past that didn’t quite ever make it to fruition.

“(In) Buenos Aires last December and then Osaka, Japan, in June, China and the U.S. announced this kind of massive deal, only to see it crumble rapidly afterward, and we have this again. The (trade deal) hasn’t been, as Mr. Trump puts it, “papered” and the Chinese are requesting further negotiations at the end of this month with a view to Mr. Trump and President Xi Jinping of China (to sign) a deal at the APEC summit in Chile in the middle of November,” he says. If this deal will pass or not is really up in the air.

Another point to take into account is that there aren’t many specifics that are known surrounding how China will, in fact, purchase the $50 billion agricultural goods. Whether it be pork, soybeans, or a combination of all the ag products the U.S. produces, Dr.Burton says he’s not sure how the U.S. would even supply that amount in the second year after the agreement is formally signed.

However, if the U.S. pulls it off, it does make Burton wonder about Canadian markets if in fact, China sources products “x, y, z”  from the U.S.

“In his press conference yesterday, Mr. Trump was making references to how American farmers ought to buy more land and get bigger tractors this kind of thing which you know sounds great but probably is not all that sensible from the point of view of proper agriculture.”

Haney mentions with it being less than a week until the federal election, the topic of China and trade for that matter isn’t being brought up as much as he feels it should be discussed. Dr. Burton says it’s surprising, and although farm policy may not be a major issue in determining a political outcome in candidates’ campaign, the fact of the matter is that there are important issues surrounding trade that should be dealt with by politicians should they get elected.

“Political parties (should) present alternatives to try and resolve the serious crisis particularly with regard to China both in terms of politics and hostage diplomacy matter relating to submitting to a U.S. extradition request for the Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou,” Barton explains.

“And of course the completely unjustified banning of Canadian canola seed exports into China and meat plus other uncertainties in soybeans and other agricultural commodities which means our economy has taken an enormous hit and it’s affecting a significant portion of our population who are involved in agricultural production and I think we need our politicians to give us some notion on how they plan to respond and if they don’t have the appropriate plans, then I think Canadians could adjust their political preferences accordingly.”

Listen to the full interview between RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney and senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Dr. Charles Barton as the pair discuss trade between China and the upcoming election’s role below:

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