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As Swine Fever Spreads, China Continues to Import U.S. Pork
USAgNet - 12/03/2018

China is loading up on U.S. pork, despite import tariffs imposed due to the trade war, as a highly contagious swine disease ravages the Chinese hog herd. The world's top hog producer and pork consumer last week placed its largest order for American pork since the trade war began, U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed on Thursday.

Reuters reports that the purchases are a signal that an outbreak of African swine fever is raising concerns of an eventual supply shortfall, potentially superseding trade tensions between the world's two largest economies, brokers and traders said.

"It's kind of like, why do you buy from your enemy? Because you have to," said Don Roose, president of Iowa-based broker U.S. Commodities.

China has imposed retaliatory tariffs on imports of U.S. farm products in the tit-for-tat trade row, including duties of 62 percent on American pork.

China in the week ended Nov. 22 bought 3,348 tonnes of pork to be shipped this year, USDA said, its largest purchase for the current season since February. The country also bought 9,384 tonnes of pork for shipment next year, accounting for 72 percent of the total weekly sales to all countries.

The deals come as China may buy pork for its state reserves to support farmers struggling to sell pigs during the African swine fever epidemic.

Chinese pig farmers have started to get rid of animals to cut their losses after prices dropped when Beijing banned the transport of live pigs from infected regions.

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