China, US Trade Deal on LNG Trade, Beef

May 25, 2017

According to a release by the United States Department of Commerce, the United States and China have reached an agreement on trade in such areas as American exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and beef to China. Energy, investment, trade, and financial services were among the bilateral topics US President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping agreed to address during their Presidential Summit in April, and while this announcement touts consensus in these areas, some analysts criticised the US side’s lack of focus on investment barriers in favour of expanding exports to China.

The release also flags American recognition of the importance of the Belt and Road initiative, a move other analysts have taken to be motivated by a desire to increase investment from China, especially in areas such as infrastructure, where Xi’s Belt and Road initiatives and Trump Administration promises on infrastructure may coincide. On the Chinese side of negotiations, China intends to encourage private and state-owned enterprises to invest in import infrastructure to handle American LNG, although investment may be hampered by Asia LNG prices falling by 56% since 2014.

In the near-term, however, other commentators anticipate possibilities for a new wave of investment into US LNG, both on US soil and along the distribution chain. A July deadline for China to allow American beef exports was also agreed upon, ending a ban imposed when a case of mad-cow disease caused China to restrict the product in 2003. The release concludes noting that, as with other countries, the United States welcomes direct investment from China, and invites China to participate at a Washington D.C. investment summit in June.