September 24, 2019 10:00 AM, EDT

China Gives New Waivers for Tariff-Free US Soybean Purchases

China Soybean PurchasesDaniel Acker/Bloomberg News

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The Chinese government has given new waivers to several domestic state and private companies to buy U.S. soybeans without being subject to retaliatory tariffs, according to people familiar with the situation.

The companies received tariff waivers for between 2 million to 3 million tons of American soy, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. Some firms have already bought at least 20 cargoes, or about 1.2 million tons, of the commodity from the U.S. Pacific Northwest on Sept. 23, the people said.

Among the companies are state-owned buyers Cofco and Sinograin as well as five other crushers, the people said. China’s commerce ministry didn’t respond to a fax seeking comment.

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The waivers follow a meeting between working-level trade officials last week in the U.S. and before top negotiators meet next month to try to resolve the trade dispute. China’s commitment to buy more U.S. agricultural products is central to the talks, with President Donald Trump looking to shore up support from American farmers, an important political constituency in next year’s elections.