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China agrees to buy US rice for 1st time as trade talks continue

The unpredictable detente in the trade war between the U.S. and China took another positive turn, as Beijing announced that it would begin accepting imports of American rice for the first time, Reuters reported Dec. 28.

China's customs authority said Dec. 27 that it had opened up its market to U.S. brown rice, polished rice and crushed rice as long as they meet Chinese and U.S. Department of Agriculture standards, according to Reuters.

According to USA Rice, a trade group, China first opened its rice market when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, though it limited imports to 12 countries, primarily in Southeast Asia. U.S. rice, although seen as less competitive from a pricing standpoint than other nations, has not been allowed in the Asian country.

The move by Beijing comes as American and Chinese trade officials are in the midst of a 90-day negotiation period that began Dec. 1, following a meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

As part of the detente, the two countries agreed to hold off on imposing further tariffs on one another's goods, and Beijing also agreed to purchase more American agricultural products.

The agreement to purchase American rice appears to make good on that promise, though it is not clear how much rice Beijing plans to purchase.

The White House and U.S. Trade Representative's Office did not immediately return requests for comment.

Rice has not been spared in the trade war between the world's two largest economies. Despite its imports being stifled, Beijing slapped a 25% tariff on American rice exports in July.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 55% of American rice is exported to the world.