This story is part of an ongoing series on US-China relations, jointly produced by the South China Morning Post and POLITICO, with reporting from Asia and the United States. As China and the United States prepare to sign a phase one trade deal on Wednesday, doubts remain about whether all the details of the agreement will be released publicly, and whether Beijing can meet the lofty purchasing demands. High-ranking Trump administration officials have insisted that details of the agreement will be made available. However, there are signs that the full text and numbers will not be publicly disclosed. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has previously said that some aspects of the deal will not be released, including specific targets for Chinese commodity purchases, to avoid market manipulation. “You will get the top line categorical numbers, but not the individual product lines,” said Clete Willems, who was until last year deputy director of the National Economic Council and a member of the US negotiating team with China. The administration is not legally obliged to publish the full text of the deal because it was an executive agreement that did not require congressional approval, said Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “Just because the US is happy with the translation doesn’t mean we get to see everything,” he said. For example, Scissors, who has previously advised the administration on China issues, said he was “90 per cent certain” that there was an unwritten commitment by the US to further cut tariffs if the Chinese are on track to make the roughly US$200 billion in additional purchases they promised over the next two years. China will also be reluctant to sign off on a translation that admits wrongdoing. “The Chinese are never going to admit in their version that they engage in coercive technology transfer,” Scissors said. “Is the Chinese version of things going to be very different from the US version?” A post on the semi-official Chinese social media account Taoran Notes pointed readers to a statement made by the Ministry of Commerce in December, which said: “After the agreement is officially signed, the contents of the agreement will be announced to the public.” But it is not unusual for trade agreements not to be published in their entirety, and the Chinese government will be reluctant to publicise anything which may vex other trading partners. Other suppliers to China could lose out should Beijing meet US demands to buy an additional US$200 billion of goods and services over two years, including at least US$80 billion of agricultural goods. Nor would China wish to risk a public backlash domestically by revealing the extent of its concessions to the US in the trade deal. Deborah Elms, executive director of the Asian Trade Centre, said that non-disclosure is “not as uncommon as you might think”. An example is Singapore and Taiwan, they reached a free-trade agreement [in 2013] but it has never been acknowledged – at least on the Singapore side. If the texts are available, I haven't seen them Deborah Elms, Asian Trade Centre “An example is Singapore and Taiwan, they reached a free-trade agreement [in 2013] but it has never been acknowledged – at least on the Singapore side. If the texts are available, I haven't seen them,” Elms said. Does it add up? Since the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published its phase one fact sheet in December, economists have debated whether China could meet US purchasing demands. These would effectively double China’s imports of US goods, which were around US$188 billion in 2017. The Post and POLITICO reported on Tuesday that the purchases would come in four areas: manufacturing, which would account for some US$75 billion of the total, US$50 billion worth of energy, US$40 billion in agriculture and US$35 billion to US$40 billion in services, three sources familiar with the matter said. If Beijing reverted to 2017’s import levels and added this US$200 billion, it would buy US$576 billion of US goods and services over two years, an eye-watering sum, but one which is theoretically achievable , given that China’s total imports of goods in 2017 alone were worth US$1.84 trillion. Rosa Wang, a Shanghai-based analyst at agricultural research firm JCI China, said she was “quite confident” that China could meet US President Donald Trump’s demand to buy at least US$80 billion of farm goods over two years, but the government would need to reduce tariffs or issue waivers to make sure private buyers join state buyers in importing American farm products. Wang forecast that China could buy US$18.6 billion worth of soybeans, which dwarfs the next highest commodities, nuts and fruits, frozen pork, sorghum, distiller's dried grains with solubles – an ethanol by-product used in animal feed – cotton, corn, wheat and poultry. Agricultural imports are complicated by an outbreak of African swine fever in China, which has led to the loss of up to one-quarter of the world’s pigs to disease or cull. On one hand, it means that China needs more protein for human consumption. In November, China’s imports of beef and pork hit record levels , as it stocked up on meat ahead of the Lunar New Year festival later this month. Willems confirmed that there would be purchases of poultry and beef – estimated at US$1.5 billion apiece – in the phase one deal, with American farmers gaining re-entry to the market after years of being left out in the cold due to China’s ban on certain hormones and additives used in US farming. Factors elsewhere in the world may open the door to US meat sales, such as Australia's devastating wildfires that will hit its beef exports, said Chenjun Pan, a protein analyst at Rabobank. “Beef supply from Australia will be impacted by the fires,” said Pan. “The trend was already for lower supply from Australia, since the drought has been quite severe.” But on the other hand, most of China’s soybeans and corn go into animal feed, meaning that demand for these crops is dependent on improvement in the swine fever situation. The disease is preserved by cold weather and spread by farm vehicles which are harder to clean in icy conditions. With northern China in the grips of bitter winter, the crisis is far from over. “70 per cent of the feed is for growing and finishing pigs. Even if the sow herd was up to numbers right now, we would still be six months away from having full numbers in growing and finishing pigs,” said E. Wayne Johnson, a pig farming specialist based in northern Beijing. Farmers waiting for evidence of purchases American wheat and corn farmers have long craved unfettered access to the Chinese market, but this was ruled out last week by Han Jun, vice-minister of agriculture and a key part of China’s negotiating team. Han said that China would not raise import quotas on corn, rice or wheat, meaning that anything imported above the 2020 quota level will remain subject to a 65 per cent tariff. In 2017, China imported US$900 million worth of corn, just US$200 million of which came from the US. In the same year, it imported US$1.3 billion in wheat, with US$500 million from the US, as well as US$1.8 billion in rice, with none of that being American grown. “[The US] want to push grain down China’s throat but China doesn’t want it,” Johnson said. “They don't know what they would do with it. They need the pork, but it looks like to me they're going to be in trouble with their own grain farmers because there's going to be a glut of domestically produced grain.” Last year, only 56 per cent of China’s corn import quota was met, 28 per cent of wheat and 40 per cent of rice. While this may suggest capacity to import US grain, it is unclear whether it is needed. Beijing has prioritised self-sufficiency in these three “strategic” grains and has large stockpiles of reserves, but US farmers are hopeful. The trade war caused our market share to plummet to zero for all of 2018. We recovered 1 per cent of the market share in 2019 Michelle Erickson-Jones, Farmers for Free Trade “The trade war caused our market share to plummet to zero for all of 2018. We recovered 1 per cent of the market share in 2019,” Michelle Erickson-Jones, a director at Farmers for Free Trade, wrote in a blog post. “We are hopeful however that we will recover a substantial amount of this market share through the phase one agreement.” The USTR fact sheet earmarked energy as a priority sector, and on the face of it that seems reasonable. US exports of crude oil and related petroleum products between July and October 2019 were roughly half what they were in the same period of 2017. “Trump and American energy firms are definitely keen to revive oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to China as suppliers from other countries like Australian LNG or Russian oil, have capitalised on the trade spat,” said Henning Gloystein, global energy director at the Eurasia Group. But while China is keen to diversify its energy supply from the volatile Middle East, it could be reluctant to “engage in a long-term relationship as a buyer of strategically key products like oil and gas with a geopolitical competitor who is perceived to want to contain China’s rise,” Gloystein said. “This will be especially the case should Trump win this year’s election. Beijing is concerned that a bolstered-up Trump could come back and use energy supply – which China sees as a strategic priority – for political leverage,” he said. Finbarr Bermingham reports for the South China Morning Post from Hong Kong and Adam Behsudi reports for Politico from Washington.