China emerges as a key market for agricultural products

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Posted by Fred Gale, Economic Research Service in Scientific Research and Trade

Feb 21 2017

Chinese imports of agricultural products have increased in recent years, with the United States being a key supplier. A recent ERS report examines China’s emergence as a major agricultural importer.

This article is part of the Science Tuesday reporting series on the USDA Blog. Check back weekly as we feature stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

China is often known for its dominant export presence in the world market. The ubiquitous ‘Made in China’ label, found on everything from pens to smartphones, has made China’s export prowess extremely visible and has at times overshadowed the other side of the country’s trade relationship with the world. But in recent years, China’s potential as an important market has attracted more and more attention.

A new report from the Economic Research Service (ERS) examines China’s emergence as a major importer of agricultural products over the past decade. Between 2000 and 2013, China’s agricultural imports increased from $ 10 billion to around $ 123 billion. The surge in imports was driven by rising incomes and changing consumer preferences as well as growing demand for industrial raw materials. While bulk products such as soybeans and cotton remain predominant in China’s agricultural imports, consumer preferences and increased purchasing power have broadened the scope of these imports. As a result, imports of processed and consumer-oriented products like meats, dairy products, wine and nuts are increasingly appearing in Chinese markets.

The United States has become a particularly important supplier of agricultural products to China. Sales of U.S. agricultural products to China doubled from less than $ 13 billion in 2008 to nearly $ 26 billion in 2013, making China the top export destination for U.S. agricultural products in 2013 for the United States. third consecutive year. The United States accounts for more than half of China’s soybean and cotton imports and is currently its main supplier of consumer products such as meats. China’s imports of U.S. dairy products and other consumer products, such as fruits, nuts, and wine, increased from $ 234 million in 2000 to $ 2.45 billion in 2014, representing nearly 12% of the total value of US agricultural exports to China that year. .

Chinese demand for agricultural products is expected to continue growing in the near future. Although soybeans are likely to remain the dominant import commodity, overseas purchases of corn and higher-value products are also expected to increase. However, it is difficult to assess the magnitude of China’s future demand for agricultural imports for several reasons. Slower growth in China, the build-up of commodity stocks and recent restrictions imposed by Chinese authorities on some genetically modified varieties of US corn and animal feed have left the pace of imports uncertain. Chinese.

For more information, see the ERS China’s Growing Demand for Agricultural Imports report.

Buyers examine products in Zhengzhou, central China.  Photo by Fred Gale.
Buyers examine products in Zhengzhou, central China. Photo by Fred Gale.
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Scientific research and commerce

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