Food & Agribusiness Talking Points | 08/05/2018

In Today’s Talking Points: Trump’s Trade War is Already Hurting American Farmers; China’s Investment in Foreign Agriculture Increasing Rapidly; Scientists in China Race to Edit Crop Genes, Sowing Unease in U.S.; Starbucks CEO Eyes China Expansion With Nestlè Money

Trump’s Trade War is Already Hurting American Farmers

The threat of the US$60 billion worth of tariffs imposed on Chinese imports into America is already hurting Trump’s supporting demographics, news reports suggest. Although Chinese tariffs are not yet imposed to their fullest, the purchase and shipping by China of US soybeans has already been halted, hurting a large domestic industry. The impact comes as firms are not willing to commit to US soybean exports with the threat of drastic tariffs hanging over them. If China’s retaliatory tariffs are imposed to their fullest, a tariff of 25% will be imposed on soybean exports, increasing the penalty that exporters will see to around US$100. China is America’s largest market for soybeans, importing 90% of its annual consumption (110m tons) and soybeans are America’s most valuable export crop, with inter-country trade worth US$12 billion in 2017.

Read more on The Independent

China’s Investment in Foreign Agriculture Increasing Rapidly

The pace that Chinese companies are investing in foreign agricultural and food assets is increasing at a rapid pace, according to a study done by the United States Department of Agriculture (ASDA). The study found that over 1,300 Chinese companies had investments in foreign agriculture, fisheries and forestry assets valued at over US$ 26 billion in 2016. The increase in foreign investment is largely due to a strategic plan by Chinese officials aiming to reshape patterns of international trade and to encourage companies to invest abroad, increasing national food security and decreasing the price that China is able to import food products. Although increasing rapidly, the report highlights the often exaggeration of Chinese projects by media, as projects often fall short of their initial targets, likely due to inexperience in global markets, the language barrier and local bureaucracy. The report also emphasizes the role of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in outward investment from China, encouraging domestic firms to invest in smaller countries in closer proximity to China, including Southeast Asia, Russia and Africa.

Read more on The USDA

Scientists in China Race to Edit Crop Genes, Sowing Unease in U.S.

The epicentre of emerging agricultural technology is shifting East as China’s leading seed and chemical giant Syngenta invests tens of millions of dollars into gene editing development. U.S farmers are left feeling concerned with China’s position in agricultural science, as with the growth of China’s large-scale, Western-style farming operations comes the decreasing dependence on imports. China’s Crispr is one of the emerging technologies that are refining biotechnology practices to dramatically increase efficiencies over U.S development. Rather than adding genes from bacteria to create crops, Chinese scientists are creating techniques that remove this process to achieve similar effects with looser regulations.

Read more on Wall Street Journal

Starbucks CEO Eyes China Expansion With Nestlè Money

With F&B giant Nestlè investing US$ 7.15 Billion in Starbucks, receiving the rights to sell Starbucks branded products, Starbucks is looking to re-invest the new-found cash in their China expansion. Although the world-renowned coffee chain has invested heavily in China in recent years, with U.S. sales waning and more fierce competition, the chain is looking to China for a long term source of growth. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson has said that there will be a big push to increase their digital presence in China through it’s loyalty and rewards programs.

Read more on Bloomberg