US Agricultural Market Shares Fall, Despite US-China Trade Increasing in 2021

Less than three months remain in the US-China Phase One Trade Agreement. Although China’s purchases of US exports overall are projected to fall short of the two-year, $200 billion target (Bown 20211), China’s purchases of US agricultural products have steadily increased. An important question, however, is whether increased Chinese imports from the US has translated into actual gains in US market share, relative to the 2017 pre-trade war benchmark? This figure plots changes in US trade values against changes in US market shares in 2021 (Jan-Aug) at the product level relative to the same period in 2017 (Jan-Aug). US corn exports are the big winner, with exports to China increasing over $3.5 billion compared to 2017, coupled with a nearly 40%-point gain in the US corn market share in China. US beef and poultry  exports to China also gain in value and market share thanks to the easing of China’s non-tariff prohibitions. 

However, for a number of product categories, increasing Chinese imports from the US (moving east on x-axis) have not translated into market share gains relative to 2017 (moving north on the y-axis). US exports experiencing higher trade with China but a declining market share include pork, wheat, grain sorghum, feed and fodder, cotton, and to a lesser extent, soybeans, dairy, and tree nuts. Thus, for many US agricultural products, China’s increased year-to-date import values in 2021 has not necessarily resulted in higher US market share in China. Overall, US agricultural and seafood exports to China are up $7.4 billion through August 2021 relative to the same period in 2017, but down 4.8 percentage points in market share. Relatively speaking, this perplexing drop in agricultural and seafood market share suggests China is actually importing more from the rest of world compared to its imports from the US under the Phase One Trade  Agreement. 

Year-to-date (Jan.-Aug.) trade value and market share changes for US ag exports to  China by-product: 2017 versus 2021

Grant, Jason H. . “US Agricultural Market Shares Fall, Despite US-China Trade Increasing in 2021.” Southern Ag Today 1(44.4). October 28, 2021. Permalink