China is the world's leading producer and consumer of various agricultural commodities, and it is one of the top U.S. trading partners in agricultural products. China’s growth in agricultural production, rising living standards, and evolving agricultural policies make it one of the most dynamic participants in global agricultural markets.
ERS provides research, analysis, and information on China's agricultural policy, outlook, and trade. ERS reports include overviews of China’s agricultural trade and policies, in-depth analysis of particular commodities, food safety issues, consumer demand, and production challenges.
Recent Trends in China's Agricultural Economy
- Soybeans are China’s top agricultural import, and the United States and Brazil are the main exporters. The historical development and changes in soybean trade after China imposed retaliatory tariffs in 2018 are analyzed in Interdependence of China, the United States, and Brazil in Soybean Trade, June 2019.
- China’s dairy and infant formula markets have grown substantially over the past decade and are expected to continue to expand. At the same time, China’s domestic dairy industry is rapidly modernizing. A recent ERS report examined trends in China’s dairy consumption, production, and trade (see China's Dairy Supply and Demand, December 2017).
- China has emerged as the world’s leading agricultural importer, and now officials in China are adjusting policies to accommodate the country’s new status as an agricultural importer (see China's Growing Demand for Agricultural Imports, February 2015).
- Encouraging Chinese companies to invest in global supply chains for the country’s imports is one of China’s strategies to gain control over its food imports (see China’s Foreign Agriculture Investments, April 2018).
- China is projected to become a larger importer of meat as the composition of the Chinese diet changes and as domestic livestock production encounters challenges from disease, environmental regulation, and production costs (see “China in the Next Decade: Rising Meat Demand and Growing Imports of Feed,” April 2014, and “China’s Livestock and Feed Imports”, 2021).
- The demand for imported feed ingredients to support a growing livestock sector has played an important role in lowering tariffs and other barriers to U.S. imports in China (see Development of China's Feed Industry and Demand for Imported Commodities, November 2015).
- As China imports more meat and milk, its livestock industry has made productivity improvements a priority (see China's Pork Imports Rise Along with Production Costs, January 2017; and “China as Dairy Importer: Rising Milk Prices and Production Costs,” International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 2016).
- As China became more engaged in global agricultural trade, its Government began subsidizing farmers and supporting farm prices (see Growth and Evolution in China's Agricultural Support Policies, August 2013).
- China has boosted productivity in its farm sector to a surprising degree since institutional reforms during the 1980s, but improvements have slowed and are uneven (see "China's Agricultural Productivity Growth: Strong but Uneven," Amber Waves, June 2013).
- Corn yields in China have improved since the 1960s, but they are falling further behind U.S. yields (see Prospects for China's Corn Yield Growth and Imports, April 2014).
- Chinese officials are pursuing a new round of institutional agricultural reforms to further boost productivity. ERS discussed the potential for reform in China's Ongoing Agricultural Modernization: Challenges Remain After 30 Years of Reform, April 2009.
- As their incomes grow, consumers in China are demanding higher food quality by paying higher unit prices that reflect food safety, branding, and nutritional attributes (see Demand for Food Quantity and Quality in China, January 2007).
- China’s tree-nut imports reflect the country’s demand for food products not traditionally produced in the country (see "China's Potential as an Export Market for Tree Nuts" in Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: March 2015).
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