China has reportedly purchased roughly a million tons of soybeans from the United States, after the Chinese government. granted importers a temporary reprieve from tariffs.
Here's what we know
According to Bloomberg News citing "people familiar with the situation," Chinese companies began buying soybeans from the U.S. after the waivers were issued.
China had slapped steep tariffs on soybeans in retaliation for tariffs that the United States had placed on Chinese goods. The trade standoff started in March 2018 when President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would be slapping tariffs on all imports of steel and aluminum. The Chinese government responded with tariffs of its own, which were met with additional U.S. tariffs on China, which in turn were met with matching tariffs on the U.S.
Due to this trade dispute, Chinese soybean purchases from the U.S. fell from $1.1 billion in September 2017 to just $24 million in September 2018. By late October 2018, U.S. soybean exports had dropped by 97 percent.
The diminishing demand from their product had a substantial impact on American farmers. Without the lucrative Chinese market, some U.S. exporters were forced to sell their soybeans to Iran at a discount. The federal government ended up giving nearly $30 billion in bailouts to farmers impacted by these tariffs.
According to Bloomberg, the Chinese government has granted waivers for an additional 2 million tons worth of soybean purchases.
However, Bloomberg was unable to confirm these numbers with any officials in China since offices are closed due to the national holiday marking the 70th anniversary of the Communist regime.
Reuters reported last week that Chinese companies had bought 10 boatloads (roughly 600,000 metric tonnes) of soybeans from U.S. exporters.
Both these purchases followed talks between U.S. and Chinese officials. Since March 2018, the two countries have been trying unsuccessfully to reach a permanent trade deal.