Business Maverick

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Coronavirus could impact Chinese purchases of U.S. farm goods – U.S. official

BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 09: A Chinese woman wears a protective mask as she has her temperature checked before entering a park with her child on February 9, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to more than 37000 in mainland China Sunday, days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a global public health emergency. China continued to lock down the city of Wuhan in an effort to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts have confirmed can be passed from human to human. In an unprecedented move, Chinese authorities have put travel restrictions on the city which is the epicentre of the virus and municipalities in other parts of the country affecting tens of millions of people. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to over 810 on Sunday, mostly in Hubei province, and cases have been reported in other countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, India, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and several others. The World Health Organization has warned all governments to be on alert and screening has been stepped up at airports around the world. Some countries, including the United States, have put restrictions on Chinese travelers entering and advised their citizens against travel to China. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

The coronavirus outbreak could reduce Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural products this year under the Phase 1 trade deal signed by the countries, White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said on Tuesday.

“We expect the Phase 1 deal will allow China to import more food and open those markets to American farmers, but certainly as we watch this coronavirus outbreak unfold in China it could have an impact on how big, at least in this current year, the purchases are,” White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien told an event at the Atlantic Council.

The Phase 1 trade agreement, which was signed on Jan. 15, calls on China to boost its purchases of U.S. agricultural commodities by $40 billion over the next two years.

O’Brien said China plays a critical role in the global supply chain and the coronavirus could be disruptive.

“We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out and whether alternate suppliers can be found,” O’Brien said.

“There’s no doubt that the virus could have an impact on the U.S. economy and also on the world economy,” he said.

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