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U.S. and Chinese Trade Talks Commence Again

Negotiations continue with only a month left to reach a deal before March 2 deadline to increase tariffs

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U.S./Chinese Trade Talks Commence Once Again

The United States and China opened a pivotal round of high-level talks on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. aimed at bridging deep differences over China's intellectual property and technology transfer practices and easing a months-long tariff war.

This round of talks includes cabinet-level officials, led by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Negotiations are continuing with only a month left to reach a deal before a March 2 U.S. deadline to increase tariffs on Chinese goods.

The talks in Washington are expected to be tense, with little indication so far that Chinese officials are willing to address core U.S. demands to fully protect American intellectual property rights and end policies that Washington has said force U.S. companies to transfer technology to Chinese firms.

Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on $200 billion of goods to 25 percent from 10 percent on March 2 if an agreement cannot be reached. He has also threatened new tariffs on the remainder of Chinese goods shipped to the United States. China has retaliated with tariffs of its own, but has suspended some and is allowing some purchases of U.S. soybeans during the talks.

What Does This Mean for U.S. Farmers? These negotiations will be tense as all eyes in the global agricultural community will be waiting for details. There have been no details about agriculture yet. Expect the entire agricultural community to be โ€œbuzzingโ€ with any details.

USDA Resumes Publishing Weekly Grains, Cotton and Livestock Export Data

Starting today, January 31, the USDA will start publishing weekly export data for all agricultural commodities after a month delay.

The USDA said the report for the week ending December 27, 2018, will be published on Feb. 7 while a combined report for the weeks ending January 10- February 14 will be published on Feb. 22.

What Does This Mean for U.S. Farmers? While new data does not equal good data, the restarting of weekly export figures is a positive step to help determine the pace of demand. These export figures will be particularly important for the wheat and corn. Wheat exports have chronically underperformed this year and corn sales were a bit light going into December. Unfortunately, the full effect of the month-long hiatus will not be known until mid-February due to the staggered releases.

Drought Conditions Spread in Australia

Australia's west coast is facing hot, dry weather over the next three months, the country's bureau of meteorology said on Thursday, denting the outlook for wheat production in the world's fourth-largest exporter.

There is only a 20% chance that the state of Western Australia will receive average rainfall between Feb. 1 and April 30, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said in its latest three-month outlook. It also forecast a 70% chance that the majority of Australia will experience above average temperatures over the same period.

Western Australia is the country's largest wheat growing region, producing up to half of the total harvest, and farmers will begin sowing crops in early April.

What Does This Mean for U.S. Farmers? Continued drought in Australia would be beneficial for U.S. wheat, cotton, cattle and perhaps oilseeds. While still a long ways out, the current hydrological configuration is not positive. Any further reductions in the Australian export programs could be a benefit to low protein U.S. white and perhaps soft red wheat in the Asian Pacific region. White wheat has already benefited from a reduction in Australian production and exports.

The risk of trading futures, hedging, and speculating can be substantial. FBN BR LLC (NFA ID: 0508695)

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