A newspaper affiliated with China’s ruling Communist Party urged “strong restrictive measures” against alleged U.S. soybean dumping, underscoring concern that trade disputes pressed by President Donald Trump could extend into other sectors.
The Global Times published an editorial late Tuesday accusing the U.S. of decimating Chinese growers and breaching of World Trade Organization rules with soybean subsidies. China is the world’s biggest importer of soybeans—consuming about one-third of the U.S. crop—which it uses largely to feed 400 million or so pigs.
“The imported soybeans have taken over the domestic market. An important reason is that imported soybeans, especially from the U.S., received huge subsidies,” the paper said. “Strong restrictive measures need to be taken against the massive subsidies and dumping of soybeans by some countries on China.”
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While the Global Times is published by the party’s flagship People’s Daily newspaper, it sometimes takes more hawkish positions and doesn’t necessary reflect the views of the leadership in Beijing. No formal anti-dumping investigation has been started, although Bloomberg News reported in February that President Xi Jinping’s government was studying the impact of restricting soybean imports in retaliation for U.S. tariffs.
Any China soybean curbs would directly hit farmers in Midwestern U.S. states crucial to Trump’s efforts to retain Republican control of Congress in November elections. Still, any action by Beijing risks pushing up feed costs for the world’s largest pork producer and consumer. Higher costs for pig farmers could increase meat prices for China’s 1.4 billion citizens, an issue not addressed in the editorial.
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Trump has called on China to reduce the U.S.’s $375 billion trade deficit with the country by as much as $100 billion while threatening unilateral action to correct the imbalance. In addition to broader tariffs on steel and aluminum, he is considering duties worth as much as $60 billion on Chinese products.
Global Times Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijiun suggested in a tweet that such a response was on the table. “I’m sure if Trump imposes high tariffs on imported products from China, the backlash will first come to American soybeans worth over $10 billion sold to China every year. This is no casual comment,” Hu wrote.
Meanwhile, the New York-based investment bank Vertical Group said an increase in China’s sow herd meant that U.S. pork imports were an “easy target” amid escalating trade tensions. A decline in Chinese hog prices of as much as 30 percent in the past three months made it an “opportune” time to ban imports of American pork, it said in a report.