Japan trade agreement signed, Trump talks USMCA, China trade aid
With several U.S. agriculture leaders in attendance, President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed a trade agreement on Sept. 25 that will eliminate or reduce Japanese tariffs on $7.2 billion of U.S. food and agricultural products.
Trump and Abe signed the agreement on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“Over 90 percent of U.S. food and agricultural imports into Japan will either be duty-free or receive preferential tariff access once the agreement is implemented,” the White House said in an email.
Many members of Congress and agriculture leaders praised the agreement while calling for a larger, comprehensive agreement with Japan, while the dairy industry was less enthusiastic.
At a news conference, Trump said, “It’s a tremendous deal. It’s a very big trade deal.”
After Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., who was present, said, “The next thing that we need to work on is the USMCA agreement,” a reference to the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement on trade, Trump said, “I don’t know if (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is going to have any time to sign it. That’s the only problem. … She’s wasting her time on a – you know, let’s use a word that they used to use a lot: a ‘manufactured crisis.’”
Trump then asked Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer if he thinks Pelosi will bring it up for a vote and Lighthizer replied, “Well, I think that it will come up for a vote. When it comes up for a vote, I’m confident that it will pass. It’s 1.4 trillion dollars’ worth of trade and literally millions of American jobs.”
Representatives of the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council and the wheat industry attended the signing.
At the news conference, Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said, “What we need is trade, and that’s what makes a rural America grow. But I want to also say to you that the farmers and ranchers of this country appreciate you standing up for us and standing up for the American people, and to continue to show your support for rural America. We appreciate it, and we look forward to continue to work with you on that.”
Trump then noted farmers and ranchers “never once came to me and they said, ‘Sir, please make a deal. Just make any deal; get us back.’ They never did. But I went to you, and I said, ‘How much money have you lost over the last two years?’ And it was $12 million through Sonny, as you know. Sonny said — Secretary of Agriculture — he said, ‘Sir, last year was 12 years — $12 billion. And this year, it’s $16 billion.’ And they’re paying us many, many, many billions of dollars in tariffs. And they’re eating it because they’ve devalued their currency. They’re pouring money in. They’ve really been eating the tariffs.
“And we’ve took it — we’ve taken it out of those tariffs and we gave the farmers $12 billion for two years ago. And for last year, we gave $16 billion, divided up among the farmers. So, they’re even. I mean, I wanted to know, what was the number. That was the number. And we had, you know, tens of billions of dollars left over. Because it will be well over $100 billion pretty soon that we will have taken into our treasury.
“So out of the big numbers, we took back — we paid to the farmer. I don’t think there’s any other president ever in history that would’ve even thought of that. And the reason I did it is because you’ve been so loyal. Nobody says, ‘Oh, you’ve got to make a quick deal.’ This doesn’t go quick, to win it. Now, China has got a lot of difficulty. They lost 3 million jobs. Their supply chains are broken up. And they want to make a deal, and we want to make a deal, and I think there’s a good chance we’ll make a deal.
“But the American farmer and rancher, like you, are great patriots. You never came to me. Others come, ‘Oh, please, could you make a crummy deal? Just make any deal. We don’t care.’ Farmers said, ‘Take your time. We’re suffering.’ But I took the suffering away, in all fairness. But if I didn’t do that, you’d still be with me because you’re great patriots. So I want you to tell them that.
“But we’re getting closer and closer. But in the meantime, with Japan, it’s been a great day. Thank you. Thank you.” ❖