This is the most hilarious bit of news I have read for a while. Under Communism, China was a big importer of food -- wheat particularly. Now guess what?
In the wake of this year's massive pet food recall, China has come under increasing scrutiny for its lax food safety standards. In fact, some have suggested that all food imports from China be banned.... But barring Chinese imports would be potentially damaging to the U.S. economy. Over the past decade, the United States has become increasingly reliant on China as a source of agricultural products and as a market for U.S. exports. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service, China ranks third among world nations as a source of U.S. agricultural and forestry imports, and has held that position for some time.
And the Chinese influx shows no signs of stopping: In the first three months of 2007, Chinese agricultural imports increased by 30% over the same period in '06. Despite such soaring numbers, producers and representatives of four of the biggest Chinese import categories-rice, shrimp, tea, and feeds and fodders-said the United States could still meet the nation's demand for such products should the flow from China cease, most without a huge burden on American consumers.
The graver consequence of an agricultural trade shutoff with China would be on the U.S. export market. Several staple products in U.S. agriculture-soybeans, cotton and lumber, among others-have found the Chinese market ripe for trade. In the past four years, the total value of agricultural, fish and forestry products that U.S. businesses have exported to China has risen from $2.4 billion a year to $7.7 billion. The U.S. soybean industry, the world's largest exporter, is particularly indebted to China. In 2005, the U.S. exported about 25.7 million metric tons of soybeans, nearly one-third of soybeans produced in the country and the equivalent of $2.2 billion worth. Over the past five years, the percentage headed to China has steadily increased; last year, that amounted about 40% of the U.S.'s crop.
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