When soybeans take spotlight in trade talks, some fear focus is misguided

Soybeans account for less than 1 percent of what the U.S. exports to the world, but the beans — which are a top agricultural export for Missouri — are are taking on an outsize role in negotiations with America’s top trading partners.

The Trump administration celebrated China’s announcement after trade talks in Washington last week that the country would buy 5 million metric tons of American soybeans, the Associated Press reports.

But some observers fear a focus on soybeans is diverting attention from more difficult issues — including alleged cybertheft by the Chinese — that are complicating trade between the world’s two largest economies, according to the Associated Press.

Soybeans accounted for $21.5 billion of $2.4 trillion in U.S. exports in 2017. But farming is a rare U.S. industry that sells more to the world than it buys. Plus, it’s represented by powerful lobbies. And it’s a sector that skews pro-Trump.


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