China books record weekly U.S. beef purchases, also buys U.S. corn -USDA

Aug 27 (Reuters) - China made its largest weekly U.S. beef purchases on record last week, followed by its biggest U.S. corn deals in almost a month this week, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data released on Thursday.

The USDA, in its weekly export sales report, said China bought a net 3,315 tonnes of U.S. beef in the week ended Aug. 20, the largest weekly buy in records dating back to 1999. China also bought 11,216 tonnes of U.S. pork last week, the most in a month.

China has been aggressively importing beef, pork and poultry this year after a years-long battle with African swine fever, a deadly hog disease that has decimated the country’s pork sector.

In a separate report on Thursday, the USDA said China bought 747,000 tonnes of U.S. corn for shipment in the 2020/21 season that begins Sept. 1. The agency also said 140,000 tonnes were sold to undisclosed destinations.

The deals come amid a recent string of sales to China, which vowed to make record U.S. agricultural purchases this year as part of its Phase 1 trade deal signed with the United States in January.

Top U.S. and Chinese trade officials this week reaffirmed their commitment to the deal, under which China has lagged on its obligations to buy American goods.

Chinese purchases in the first half of this year totaled just $7.274 billion, according to U.S. Census Bureau trade data, well below the $36.5 billion in annual purchases promised in the trade deal.

Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by Dan Grebler