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China still considering curbs on US soybean imports, association says

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BEIJING — China is still considering import curbs on US soybeans in retaliation for moves by Washington to impose trade tariffs, US Soybean Export Council Asia Director Paul Burke said on Thursday, following a meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture.

In his comments, Burke rejected a report in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post that the council’s meeting with the ministry had been part of official talks aimed at shielding American soybeans.

“The agriculture ministry wanted to discuss our view of the soybean industry regarding tariffs and the supply and demand situation,” Burke said. “We are cautiously optimistic soybeans won’t be targeted, but they’re still on the table.”

A trade spat between the world’s top two economies is escalating, with US President Donald Trump preparing to slap tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports over the alleged forced transfer of intellectual property.

Soybeans were the top US agricultural export to China last year, worth more than $12 billion. China is the world’s biggest soybean importer and the US is its second-largest supplier.

In an editorial on Thursday, the China Daily newspaper said Beijing could target a broad range of US businesses from agriculture to aircraft. — Reuters