US-China trade war to hit farmers badly, say top American lawmakers

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Washington | Published: July 12, 2018 12:20:23 PM

The US' trade war with China that has resulted in increased tariffs on the import of each other's products would have an adverse impact on farmers.

In a letter, Senators urged Trump to make US agriculture exports a priority with trading partners around the world. (Reuters)

The US’ trade war with China that has resulted in increased tariffs on the import of each other’s products would have an adverse impact on farmers, top American lawmakers have said, urging President Donald Trump to protect agriculture products from tariffs.

In a letter, Senators John Thune, Mike Rounds and Congressman Kristi Noem urged Trump to make US agriculture exports a priority with trading partners around the world. “We appreciate and support your administration’s efforts to address a broad spectrum of trade inequities. We do not support, however, making agriculture exports, which have been the exception to such trade inequities, bear the brunt of retaliatory actions in response to current US trade policies,” the letter said.

“As you continue to pursue trade negotiations to address unfair trade practices and other trade barriers, we strongly urge you to make US agricultural exports a priority of those negotiations and to negotiate with our trading partners to protect agriculture products from all existing and future tariffs,” the three lawmakers said.

Congressman John Curtis, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, applauded Trump for pushing back on China’s “unfair and predatory” trade practices but said he is very concerned about what the harsh realities of a rapidly escalating trade war with China will mean for businesses and families.

“China has often sought to steal US intellectual property, manipulate their currency, and saturate the market with excess capacity in commodities like steel and aluminium, all to the detriment of American businesses and the US economy,” he said.

“While I believe that tariffs are certainly one tool in the toolbox for balancing our trade imbalance with China, I believe the administration should also look to leverage other tools as well,” Curtis said. Senator David Perdue said that Trump is taking a different approach, sometimes controversial, but he only wants one thing for America and that’s results and a level playing field with the rest of the world.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp met with members of the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association to discuss the trade war’s impact on farmers, as well as progress on the Farm Bill and other efforts to boost the state’s agriculture industry.

The House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert has announced to hold a hearing entitled “The Effects of Tariffs on US Agriculture and Rural Communities,” on July 18. “When the US uses trade enforcement tools such as tariffs, it should do so in a way that does not harm American farmers, consumers, workers and manufacturers, either through the negative effects of the tariffs themselves or by attracting retaliation by other countries that destroys our ability to sell high-quality American-made goods and services around the globe,” Reichert said.

Ramping up the US-China trade war, the Trump administration yesterday announced 10 per cent tariffs on an additional USD 200 billion worth of Chinese imports, prompting Beijing to warn of “countermeasures” to safeguard its interests.

The Trump administration’s move comes after the US imposed 25 per cent tariffs on Chinese goods worth USD 34 billion last Friday. Beijing immediately responded with its own tariffs on US goods worth USD 34 billion. The retaliatory tariffs that China enacted Friday targeted US cars and major agricultural goods, such as soybeans and meat.

Meanwhile, Senator Mark R Warner, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Senate Banking and Finance committees, expressed grave concerns of military and the intelligence community, which are unanimous in their conclusion that ZTE — a state-controlled company with ties to Chinese intelligence — presents an ongoing threat to the US’ security.

“I also share many of the concerns the president has voiced in the past about China’s unfair trade practices, which have cheated American workers and permitted Chinese companies to steal the intellectual property of American firms with virtually no consequences,” he said.

“This sweetheart deal not only ignores these serious issues, it lets ZTE off the hook for evading sanctions against Iran and North Korea with a slap on the wrist,” Warner said. Allowing ZTE to resume business is a direct betrayal of Trump’s promise to be tough on China and protect American workers, said Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader. “The administration’s terrible ZTE deal will undermine our national and economic security, which is exactly why the Senate overwhelmingly passed bipartisan legislation to retroactively tear it apart,” he said.

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