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US-China trade war ‘imperils’ Amazon forest, experts warn

Chinese imports of Brazilian soya beans have increased 2000 percent so far this century (AFP Photo/EVARISTO SA)

Paris (AFP) – The simmering trade war between the United States and China risks devastating the Amazon rainforest as Beijing looks for ways to make up a shortfall in US-grown soya beans, experts warned on Wednesday.

Over the last eight months, the US and China have slapped tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way goods trade, weighing on the manufacturing sectors in both countries.

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One US export especially hard hit by the tit-for-tat measures has been soya beans, most of which are used for animal feed.

Chinese imports of US soya products “basically collapsed to zero” at the end of 2018, according to the authors of an article in the journal Nature on how the trade war may unexpectedly impact Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.

Due to China’s insatiable demand for meat products and its reliance on imported soya beans to feed its livestock, the authors said that Brazil would need to take up the production slack if the dispute drags on.

Chinese imports of soya have already grown twenty times since 2000.

Using UN data and consumption trends, exports estimated that the area dedicated to soya production in Brazil could increase by as much as 39 percent — an additional 13 million hectares (32 million acres).

That is a rainforest the size of Greece.

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