BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese curbs on soy imports from the United States would hurt the Chinese people more than American growers, U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad said on Thursday on Bloomberg Television.
“It doesn’t make sense and it would hurt the Chinese consumers,” Branstad said in an interview.
“Ultimately, the Chinese will realize we need to work together on these issues and retaliation is not the answer, but instead collaboration and cooperation to address the issues that have been around for a long time,” said Branstad, a former governor of the state of Iowa, a major agricultural producer.
Curbs by China on U.S. soybean imports would be a major escalation of the trade spat between the two powers, hurting U.S. growers and pushing up costs for Chinese feed makers and pig farmers.
Soybeans were the top U.S. agricultural export to China last year, worth more than $12 billion. Tariffs would cause an annual economic loss to the United States of between $1.7 billion and $3.3 billion, according to a study conducted by Purdue University on behalf of the U.S. soybean Export Council.
China buys 60 percent of the soybeans traded worldwide and over 30 percent of those shipments come from the United States. Chinese buyers mainly use soy to crush into soymeal to feed its livestock herds.
“China does not want to fight a trade war...But if we are forced to enter into a trade war China has the stamina and the confidence to protect our interests,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang at a daily press briefing on Friday.
Reporting by Hallie Gu and Ben Blanchard