The world's two largest economies are finally playing nice, starting first with soybeans.
Chinese President Xi Jinping's government has taken steps this week to soothe the US, including a plan to cut tariffs on USA cars to 15 percent from 40 percent.
One U.S. trader with direct knowledge of the deals said Chinese state-owned firms bought at least 12 cargoes for shipment from January to March.
But U.S. officials have been skeptical about China's willingness to back down from its global technology ambitions.
Trump has agreed to hold fire on raising tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on some $200 billion in imports from China.
US exports of cars and light trucks to China were worth $9.5 billion in 2017 and have dropped off significantly since China imposed its retaliatory tariffs over the summer that gave exporters in Europe and Japan a significant advantage. With those exports gone, soybean prices had tumbled to their lowest in a decade, heaping pain on US farmers, a key Trump constituency.
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In its 2016 guidance to local governments, the State Council, or cabinet, said local governments that promoted the implementation of "Made in China 2025" while encouraging industrial growth and manufacturing upgrading would be given priority support.
"I've heard rumors that they're going to buy our beans and put them in reserve, but I don't see ships sitting in our ports to haul them to China yet", said John Heisdorffer, an Iowa soybean grower and chairman of the American Soybean Association, on Wednesday.
State-owned Chinese companies bought at least 500,000 tonnes of US soybeans, two USA traders said, in deals valued at more than $180 million.
"The shipments, mainly from the Pacific Northwest, will help reduce stockpile pressures for US soybean farmers", said Li Qiang, chief analyst with Shanghai JC Intelligence Co.
China's methods of non-traditional espionage, including their use of ordinary Chinese expatriates instead of spies at universities and businesses, and intellectual property theft, were explained by the officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Departments of Justice and Homeland Security who briefed United States lawmakers on Wednesday, CNN reported. The U.S. Trade Representative's office did not immediately respond to a query about the call, according to Reuters.
Daimler also exports its vehicles from the USA to China and it saw its shares go up by 2.7% in trading. There was no record of major Chinese purchases on Tuesday in the market or in daily export data. But this year, it has relied on Argentina and top exporter Brazil for most of its soybeans used to feed the world's largest pig herd. Futures in Chicago tumbled as a result, while the 2018 harvest had been piling up, unsold, in silos, bins and bags across the U.S. Midwest. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.