China is buying U.S. rice for the first time. The “South China Morning Post” reported Chinese customs officials cleared American rice for import on Thursday. It’s not clear how much China will buy, but the U.S. rice industry calls China the 800 pound gorilla for the industry, and a market barrier it’s been trying to break for decades. Johnny Sullivan of Producers Rice Mill, Inc. says “China is a monster of a market. The facts are based on the consumption rate of rice in China, the short story is China could chew through the entire U.S. crop in 14 days, so it’s unreal.”
The news comes as leaders from the two countries prepare to meet in mid-January to continue trade talks. The trade war ceasefire between the U.S. and China started earlier in December, when President Trump and President Xi Jinping met at the G20 summit in Argentina. The U.S. agreed not to raise tariff levels if the two countries can come to an agreement on a host of issues, including trade.
After a six month lull, China started buying U.S. soybeans in December. However, it hasn’t been enough to appease traders, hungry for China to start buying large quantities of U.S. beans.