China expects its U.S. agricultural imports to fall sharply

A worker looks on as imported soybeans are transported at a port in Nantong, Jiangsu province, China August 6, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s imports of U.S. agricultural products will fall sharply once Beijing implements retaliatory trade measures and the country is able to cover its demand for cooking oil and animal feed, vice agriculture minister Han Jun said on Friday.

The trade dispute will have a limited impact on China’s agriculture sector, but hit its U.S. counterparts harder, Han Jun was quoted by state radio as saying.

“Relevant departments are fully prepared after meticulous studies and China is fully capable of ensuring domestic demand for cooking oil and protein-based animal feed be covered.”

One solution is to boost imports from other exporters such as Brazil, and soymeal could easily be substituted by animal feeds made from other seeds, Han added.

China, the world’s top agricultural products importer, has an annual shortfall of 90 million tonnes of soybeans and the U.S. supplies a third of China’s total imports.

Soybeans are processed to make cooking oil and animal feed.

Beijing started levying an additional 25 percent tariff on U.S. beans on July 6 in retaliation for a similar move by Washington in the tit-for-tat trade war.

Reporting by Beijing monitoring team, Writing by Yawen Chen and Chen Aizhu; Editing by Kim Coghill