Trump persists in Chinese tariffs despite ag criticism
A spokeswoman for President Donald Trump said Sunday that he wished he had threatened to raise tariffs on Chinese goods higher than his last plan announced Friday.
Meanwhile, the American Soybean Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation said they worry that both countries are escalating the trade war.
When Trump was asked at the G-7 meeting in Biarritz, France, if he was rethinking his decision to escalate tariffs against China, he replied “Yeah, sure. Why not? … Might as well. Might as well … I have second thoughts about everything.”
But White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham issued a statement in which she said, “This morning in the bilat with the U.K., the president was asked if he had ‘any second thought on escalating the trade war with China.’ His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative — because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher.”
On Friday, ASA noted that China had announced it will impose an extra 5% tariff on U.S. soybeans starting Sept. 1 and an additional 10% duties on other major U.S. crops also grown by many soybean farmers starting mid-December.
These latest details come after China vowed earlier last week that it will retaliate if the U.S. goes through with its plan to broaden tariffs on Chinese goods Sept. 1, ASA said.
ASA President Davie Stephens said, “ASA has strongly requested an end to the tariffs on U.S. beans for more than a year.”
“This escalation will affect us not because of the increasing tariff on our sales, which have been at a virtual standstill for months, but through time,” Stephens said.
“The longevity of this situation means worsening circumstances for soy growers who still have unsold product from this past season and new crops in the ground this season — with prospects narrowing even more now for sales with China, a market soy growers have valued, nurtured, and respected for many years.”
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said Friday, “China’s announcement of imposing additional tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. imports signals more trouble for American agriculture. Farm Bureau is currently assessing the details of this announcement, but we know continued retaliation only adds to the difficulties farm and ranch families are facing and takes the situation in the exact wrong direction.
“The U.S. exported $19.5 billion of agricultural products to China in 2017,” Duvall said.
“Agricultural exports to China were reduced to $9.1 billion in 2018 because of retaliatory tariffs and exports were already down in the first half of this year by $1.3 billion.
“Continuing negotiations is the best way to restore certainty to export markets farmers and ranchers depend on. We need substantive trade agreements that ensure American agriculture can provide an abundant and safe food supply for the world’s growing population.”