Economist: China commodities tariffs would hit Texas cotton, sorghum hardest

Writer: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, b-fannin@tamu.edu

Contact: Dr. Luis Ribera,  979-845-3070, lribera@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – A trade war with China could negatively impact Texas agricultural producers.

Texas agricultural commodities such as cotton and sorghum could receive significant blows if China’s proposed trade list of tariffs becomes a reality.

Texas agricultural commodities such as cotton and sorghum could receive significant blows if China’s proposed trade list of tariffs becomes a reality. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)

“First, the new list of products that China is targeting are proposed tariffs, they have not happened yet (until the White House acts) on its new list of 1,300 Chinese products, including industrial robots and telecommunication equipment, which will not take effect right away,” said Dr. Luis Ribera, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist and director of the Center for North American Studies at Texas A&M University in College Station. “A public comment period will last through early May.”

Texas’ share of U.S.-produced cotton makes up 46 percent of exports to China, valued at nearly $450 million annually, Ribera said. The Lone Star state’s share of exported sorghum produced in the U.S. is 25 percent and accounts for $209 million annually.

“This isn’t yet a trade war, but things keep escalating,” Ribera said. “Hopefully both sides can sit down and figure things out before it gets to become a full-blown trade war. The two products hit the hardest for Texas would be sorghum and cotton.”

Texas’ share of overall U.S. beef and veal production exported to China is 13.2 percent, or $4.1 million.

“Texas is a large beef producing state, but we (currently) don’t export a lot of beef to China,” Ribera said.

Texas wheat accounts for 3.3 percent or $12 million out of the $348 million export total to China annually.

China’s latest list of tariff items drew responses from multiple national agricultural commodity associations this week, encouraging federal trade officials to bring a swift end to the list of proposed retaliatory tariffs.  

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