In this file:

 

·         In countdown to trade war talks, China ready to sweeten deal by buying American goods, source says

... China is expected to agree to buy more American agricultural products in hopes of a better trade deal with the United States as the two nations prepare for a meeting between their top negotiators next month...

 

·         Hong Kong protests and US trade war no longer China’s top priorities as spiralling pork prices dominate agenda

Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua heading Beijing’s efforts with latest data showing pork prices rose 46.7 per cent in August compared to a year earlier

Issue could even undermine next month’s 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic

 

·         China’s Pork Prices Soar, Adding to Beijing’s Troubles

Chinese grocery bills were already rising because of the trade war. Officials are now calling for ‘an attitude of urgency.’

 

 

In countdown to trade war talks, China ready to sweeten deal by buying American goods, source says

Top negotiators to meet in Washington early next month but even a simple purchase agreement is no certainty, observers say

 

Wendy Wu, South China Morning Post

10 Sep, 2019

 

China is expected to agree to buy more American agricultural products in hopes of a better trade deal with the United States as the two nations prepare for a meeting between their top negotiators next month.

 

A source familiar with the situation said working-level officials were discussing the text of a deal, which would be reviewed when Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He met US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Washington in October.

 

The text is based on a draft the two sides negotiated in April, the source said on condition of anonymity.

 

As part of the discussions, China has offered to buy American products in exchange for a delay in a series of US tariffs and easing of a supply ban against Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies.

 

The source said China could also offer more market access, better protection for intellectual property and to cut excess industrial capacity, but would be more reluctant to compromise on subsidies, industrial policy and reform of state-owned enterprises.

 

With the talks just weeks away, Chinese leaders are trying to enlist support from the business community.

 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told a gathering of US business representatives on Tuesday that China wanted a mutually accepted solution to the trade dispute. Li also said China welcomed investment by US companies in China, and that the country’s opening and reform would continue.

 

In a separate meeting with Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat, Liu said China firmly opposed the trade war and hoped the US business community would help foster stable and cooperative bilateral trade and economic relations.

 

Trade talks collapsed in early May despite agreement on nearly 90 per cent of a text for a trade deal, including a currency agreement, sources said.

 

In the aftermath, the US accused China of backtracking on previously agreed promises, while Beijing said the text raised unacceptable demands and hurt its sovereignty.

 

The talks resumed in July but failed to bring any meaningful results in a shorter-than-expected meeting in Shanghai.

 

Observers said the US wanted to resume talks based on an earlier text but China insisted that any deal must first include the removal of tariffs...

 

more

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3026585/countdown-trade-war-talks-china-ready-sweeten-deal-buying

 

 

Hong Kong protests and US trade war no longer China’s top priorities as spiralling pork prices dominate agenda

 

·         Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua heading Beijing’s efforts with latest data showing pork prices rose 46.7 per cent in August compared to a year earlier

·         Issue could even undermine next month’s 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic

 

Orange Wang, South China Morning Post (SCMP) [China]

10 Sep, 2019

 

Stabilising pig production amid rapidly rising pork prices has overtaken the 14-month trade war with the United States and the three months of political unrest in Hong Kong as China’s top priority, with Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua overseeing the sensitive topic that could stretch to undermining next month’s 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

 

The sharp rise in pork prices has hurt the world’s second largest economy, topped mainland media coverage and stoked outspoken public concern in recent weeks.

 

In response, China's State Council issued new guidelines on Tuesday urging local governments and various government departments to boost pork supply.

 

"Pig farming is an important industry that matters to the nation's plan and people's living. Pork is the main meat for most Chinese residents," said the State Council. “[Pork production] has significant meaning in terms of ensuring people's lives, stabilising prices, keeping stable economic operation and maintaining overall social stability.”

 

The consumer price index released on Tuesday reinforced the bleak picture as the data showed that pork prices rose 46.7 per cent in August compared to a year earlier, almost double the 27.0 per cent rise witnessed in July.

 

In the same way that Vice-Premier Liu He has been assigned to handle trade talks with the US, and Vice-Premier Han Zheng appointed to oversee the mainland’s response to the Hong Kong protests, Vice-Premier Hu’s agenda is now topped by the urgent need to control soaring pork prices.

 

Last week Hu, one of China’s four vice-premiers, inspected pig farms and slaughter houses from Heilongjiang province on China’s northern border with Russia to Sichuan province in the southwest, urging local governments to do whatever is necessary to increase the supply of pork.

 

According to a leaked document on boosting pig and pork supply seen by the South China Morning Post, Hu told a national conference on August 30 that it was not only an economic but also a political imperative to ensure a sufficient supply of pork, a staple meat on every Chinese dinner table.

 

“If people can’t access or be able to afford pork [in 2020], when China will become a comprehensively well-off society, it will seriously affect the achievements of a well-off society and hurt the image of the party and the state,” said Hu, according to the document.

 

Environment Minister Li Ganjie said last week that it is “a critical political task now to safeguard live hog production and ensure pork supply”.

 

The ministry is now prohibiting local governments from creating “no pig zones” in the name of environmental protection in a marked U-turn in policy after China closed hundreds of thousands of pig farms in recent years to safeguard local conditions.

 

Other government agencies, from the Ministry of Transportation to the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, have also been mobilised to help boost the supply of pork. The banking regulator has told banks not to turn down any loan applications from a pig farm, while highway toll fees will be waived for trucks carrying pigs or frozen pork.

 

China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the economic planner, said on Monday that it will provide subsidies of up to 5 million yuan (US$700,000) to any pig farm that seeks to rebuild or expand existing facilities or relocate from areas where breeding is still forbidden due to African swine fever.

 

Beijing’s scramble comes a time when the price of pork in many places has doubled in August alone thanks to a plunge in supply, causing a loud public outcry.

 

There were 69 times more mainland media articles related to “pork” than “China-US trade” as of the end of last week, according to the Baidu Index, a Chinese online search tracking service equivalent to Google Trends…

 

more

https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3026480/hong-kong-protests-and-us-trade-war-no-longer-chinas-to

 

 

China’s Pork Prices Soar, Adding to Beijing’s Troubles

Chinese grocery bills were already rising because of the trade war. Officials are now calling for ‘an attitude of urgency.’

 

By Alexandra Stevenson and Raymond Zhong, The New York Times 

Sept. 10, 2019

 

BEIJING — Things that keep China’s top leaders up at night: a stalling economy, a bruising trade war and, increasingly, pigs.

 

Specifically, a shortage of pigs, which is fast becoming a national crisis.

 

The price of pork has been rising for months and is now nearly 50 percent higher than a year ago, data published on Tuesday showed. Consumers are frustrated, and officials are quietly expressing alarm as they fight the outbreak of a disease that is devastating the country’s pork supply.

 

China’s premier, Li Keqiang, and the country’s top governing body have called for “an attitude of urgency” to deal with the issue. Another top official last month labeled the problem a “national priority.” At least three local governments have tapped the country’s strategic pork reserves to ensure that consumers can keep eating the meat without breaking the bank, according to local news reports.

 

(Yes, China has strategic pork reserves. Pork is that important here.)

 

Even with these measures, consumers are being hit hard at a time when grocery bills are already going up thanks to the trade war with the United States.

 

“Too expensive, too expensive, too expensive! We can’t afford it,” said Gui Fuyi, a 69-year-old retiree who was browsing the meat section of a Beijing supermarket on Tuesday. These days, Ms. Gui buys only ground pork for wrapping into dumplings, not whole cuts.

 

China on Tuesday released consumer price inflation figures that illustrated the growing burden on shoppers. Food costs rose by 10 percent in the past year, the numbers showed, an increase made worse by trade tensions that have resulted in steep tariffs on agricultural products and livestock feed from the United States.

 

“The Chinese government always likes to say that China can tolerate any pain and repercussions from the trade conflict,” said Victor Shih, an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego, and an expert on the Chinese economy. “But what they neglect to say is that it is the people who are bearing the brunt of the pain.”

 

China has publicly said that the trade war with the United States will not impact its pork supply. But with the most recent tariffs, which came into effect on Sept. 1, China now imposes extra taxes on American products including soybeans, pork, seafood and crude oil.

 

As officials brace for steeper price increases — analysts are estimating that pork prices could end the year at double their level from 2018 — the challenge for Beijing is becoming more serious.

 

For more than a year now, China has fought to contain a vicious epidemic of African swine fever, a highly contagious disease that is harmless to humans but kills nearly every pig it infects. The Chinese government declared its first outbreak in August 2018, and since then cases have been reported in all of the country’s provinces.

 

In response, the authorities have ordered farmers not to feed pigs kitchen waste, a major channel through which the disease, which can survive for days in feces and uncooked meat, has spread to healthy populations. Officials have imposed quarantines and transport restrictions in places where the disease has been found. The police have arrested people for trading infected pigs.

 

But safety and hygiene standards have been tough to enforce across the millions of small backyard farms where most of China’s swine are raised. The government says that 1.2 million pigs have been culled so far to try to halt the disease’s spread, which is a tiny fraction of the 700 million pigs that were slaughtered in China last year.

 

Many livestock analysts say the official numbers do not begin to capture the seriousness of the epidemic.

 

Farmers and industry observers in China say that large numbers of African swine fever cases have gone unreported to the authorities, and that many infected pigs end up sold into the market as a result. In some instances, farmers say, local officials have been slow or reluctant to acknowledge infections found in their herds.

 

The disease has already crossed the Chinese border into Vietnam, Mongolia and North Korea. Other Asian countries are on high alert.

 

As pork prices rise and Chinese families prepare for several big holidays, local officials have started to find creative ways to try to tamp down anxieties...

 

more, including links

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/10/business/china-pork-prices.html