Perdue: U.S. Must be Understanding if Coronavirus Affects Chinese Purchases

Ag Secretary Sony Perdue says the U.S. will have to be “tolerant” if the fast-spreading Coronavirus inhibits China’s ability to increase purchases of American farm goods. China pledged in the “Phase One” agreement to buy at least an additional $12.5 billion worth of farm goods in 2020 and at least $19.5 billion in 2021 over the 2017 level of $24 billion. Commodity traders and economists have questioned China’s ability to follow through on those commitments since the deal was signed. Now that the Coronavirus is continuing to spread, it poses a threat to China’s economic growth. “If they’re trying and the disease blows the economy out of the water, then we’ll need to be understanding,” Perdue told reporters during a cattle industry convention in Texas. Reuters says Perdue isn’t part of the government team that’s responsible for enforcing the terms of the agreement. He also didn’t say how the U.S. would need to adjust its expectations of China. The text of the agreement does contain a disaster clause, which Beijing has yet to formally invoke, which would allow for delays. China has reported that over 500 people have died in the Coronavirus outbreak.