The Asian nation made waves beginning in late 2013 when it began buying U.S. sorghum as a livestock-feed substitute for pricey domestic corn, and demand soared through 2015. Purchases have since waned, but China remains America's largest foreign market by a wide margin. Now, the trade is the latest victim of the tit-for-tat trade battle between the two countries.
"They started to buy practically all exportable supplies of sorghum from the U.S.," said Tom Sleight, president of the U.S. Grains Council, an export group in Washington.
That's why the new measures could quickly cause pain for American farmers. Agriculture Department Secretary Sonny Perdue blasted China's new sorghum duties — a whopping 179-percent charge that took effect last week — calling them "clearly a political decision." It is "ludicrous" to assert U.S. farmers are dumping supply, he said in a statement.
Importers in China are struggling to find buyers for cargos already on their way. Some may sell back to suppliers for a discount or to Southeast Asian markets, according to Cherry Zhang, analyst at Shanghai JC Intelligence Co.
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