KEY POINTS

  • China went on a buying spree in August, but it didn’t go very far  toward making up the deficit
  •  Soybean purchases are up just 15% from last year while corn is up 50%
  • U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said that if you forget the first two months of the year, China has done a “pretty good” job in increasing imports

An analysis of China’s imports from the U.S. indicated Monday Beijing has been unable to meet its commitments under the phase 1 U.S.-China trade deal signed in January despite huge increases in soybeans, corn and cars.

The trade deal mandated $200 billion in additional Chinese purchases compared with 2017 levels.
Through August, China was just a third of the way to meeting the, Chad Brown, trade economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told the South China Morning Post.

Brown’s analysis indicated U.S. imports are well below targets. Census Bureau data show soybean sales to China were up 432% while corn was up 513% and car sales increased 97%. Cotton was up 44%. The increases, however, do not make up for the slide early in the year prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The soybean increase was up just 15% compared with last year while corn sales were up 50%. Pork purchases were up 134%. Despite the increase, however, agriculture purchases are at just 43% of the goal.

Brown said Chinese purchases through August totaled $47.6 billion compared to a target of $95.1 billion. Data compiled by the Peterson Institute, which doesn’t include data on services, indicated for the first half of 2020, China had bought less than a quarter of what it had promised, and purchases of energy through August are 5% of what was anticipated.

An American Farm Bureau Federation post, however, indicates there’s hope

United Airlines  (UAL) – Get Report and its pilots reached an agreement that canceled 2,850 furloughs that had been scheduled for this week, the pilots’ union said Monday.

Shares of the Chicago airline at last check were up 5.5% to $36.07.

The Air Line Pilots Association said it voted to approve the Pandemic Recovery Letter of Agreement with United Airlines management. The accord prevents any United pilot from being furloughed at least until June. 

The agreement keeps all 13,000 United pilots employed.

The deal also offers a second round of early-separation options for all pilots age 50+ with 10 years of experience. And it reduces or terminates the effect of temporary work reductions based on a recovery in passenger demand or other market factors, the union said.

The agreement was ratified by about 58% of the pilots who voted on it.

“Our members understood that in order to protect pilot jobs, we needed to approve this agreement,” Capt. Todd Insler, United ALPA Master Executive Council chairman, said in a statement. 

“We’re spreading the existing flying among our pilot group while locking in permanent contractual gains. I am proud of our pilots for showing the unity and resolve needed in the face of uncertainty.”

Airlines have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic shutdown. Air travel demand is down 70% from last year, according to the industry group Airlines for America.

United executives do not expect travel to fully recover until a covid-19 vaccine is widely available.

On Monday, American Airlines  (AAL) – Get Report Chief Executive Doug Parker said he was “confident” the federal government would extend the industry’s $25 billion bailout, so airlines wouldn’t have to cut tens of thousands of workers starting Oct. 1.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or Cares, Act