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Impact of COVID-19 on China's agricultural trade

Lijuan Cao, Tianxiang Li, Rongbo Wang and Jing Zhu

China Agricultural Economic Review, 2020, vol. 13, issue 1, 1-21

Abstract: Purpose - The outbreak of the novel COVID-19 virus has spread throughout the world, causing unprecedented disruption to not only China's agricultural trade but also the world's agricultural trade at large. This paper attempts to provide a preliminary analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on China's agricultural importing and exporting from both short- and long-term perspectives. Design/methodology/approach - This study seeks to analyze how the outbreak of COVID-19 could potentially impact China's agricultural trade. With respect to exports, the authors have pinpointed major disruptive factors arising from the pandemic which have affected China's agricultural exports in both the short and long term; in doing so, we employ scenario analysis which simulates potential long-term effects. With regard to imports, possible impacts of the pandemic regarding the prospects of food availability in the world market are investigated. Using scenario analysis, the authors estimate the potential change in China's food market—especially meat import growth—in light of the implementation of the newly signed Sino-US Economic and Trade Agreement (SUETA). Findings - The results show that China's agricultural exports have been negatively impacted in the short-term, mostly due to the disruption of the supply chain. In the long term, dampened external demand and potential imposition of non-tariff trade barriers (NTBs) will exert more profound and lasting negative effects on China's agricultural export trade. On the other hand, despite panic buying and embargoing policies from some exporting and importing countries, the world food availability and China's food import demand are still optimistic. The simulation results indicate that China's import of pork products, in light of COVID-19 and the implementation of SUETA, would most likely see a sizable climb in quantity, but a lesser climb in terms of value. Originality/value - Agricultural trade in China has been a focal-point of attention in recent years, with new challenges slowing exports and increasing dependence on imports for food security. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic adds significant uncertainty to agricultural trade, giving rise to serious concerns regarding its potential impact. By exploring the impact of the unprecedented pandemic on China's agricultural trade, this study should contribute to a better understanding of the still-evolving pandemic and shed light on pertinent policy implications.

Keywords: COVID-19; Agricultural trade; Food security; Agricultural policy; China (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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