African swine fever is continuing to spread in China, wiping out more than one million pigs. The virus, which has no cure or vaccine, is harmless to humans, but is deadly and contagious to pigs.
The crisis could give the U.S. the upper hand in upcoming trade talks as prices for hogs continue to rise, forcing the country to purchase the meat from the U.S. in large quantities. If the virus spreads further, China may make concessions in its negotiations with the U.S., CNBC reports.
“We are not sure if the market appreciates how a worsening epidemic of African swine fever for China’s massive pig population could further force China’s hand on a broader trade war compromise,” U.S. analyst Ross Gilardi tells CNBC. “The growing threat is rampant pork price inflation for the masses, which puts more pressure on China to lift 62 percent import tariffs on US pork even though US pork imports are already up sharply versus pre-trade war levels.”
The countries are reportedly coming close to closing a trade deal, with both sides saying they have had "constructive" talks.