Trump's trade policy seems to be working at cross purposes

Tuesday, 31 Jul, 2018

The administration also announced $12 billion in emergency aid for farmers this week. Andrea Durkin, editor of the Center for Strategic and International Studies' TradeVistas website, said farmers anxious this season's losses would impact their ability to secure future loans.

"Farmers would prefer not to be subsidized".

On July 24, the Trump administration unveiled its plan to offer $12 billion in aid to American farmers affected by retaliatory tariffs imposed by its trading partners in response to the growing US -initiated trade war.

The revelations of Chinese cyber espionage emerged amid the escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing - friction that has caused stock prices to drop in, whose currency, the renminbi, traded at it lowest point in a year against the US dollar Thursday. But when farmers and farm state politicians started complaining, Trump suddenly came up with a scheme to provide a temporary $12 billion bailout for farmers hurt by his tariff policies. The $2 decrease in soybeans amounts to almost a half billion dollars in lost revenue, the study concluded. "If prices don't revert, farmers who didn't sell anything before will face a much lower soybean price than ones who were actively selling ahead".

"They want to attack the Farm Belt because they know ... the farmers love me", Trump said at a rally in Dubuque, Iowa, hours before he appeared in Granite City.

Now, Trump has enlisted the European Union to help USA soybean farmers to counteract the repercussions of Chinese tariffs, in addition to the $12 billion in aid he has promised for us farmers.

There are of course many more ways for China to retaliate and they did threaten Trump that they would retaliate everything.

The moves have been unsettling to lawmakers with districts dependent upon manufacturers and farmers affected by the retaliatory tariffs.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Lehigh County Republican, was among those unhappy with that solution. France, on the other hand, has balked at Buy American requirements and making concessions on agriculture, and wants the United States to remove steel and aluminum tariffs before trade talks can begin.

He adds the emphasis should be on trade and restoring markets, "We will continue to push for a swift and sure end to the trade war and the tariffs impacting American agriculture".

The size of the aid program is "unprecedented", said Joseph Glauber, a former USDA economist now at the International Food Policy Research Institute.

At the meeting, the European Union and Japan joined the U.S. in sharing Washington's consensus against China, with the European Union suggesting a comprehensive reform of WTO rules to bring about new industrial subsidies that would address the "trade-distorting" practices of the Chinese state-owned companies.

There wasn't a lot of positive hoopla from soybean farmers either. China still has to get soybeans from somewhere, and so far their eyes are set on Brazil. Trump is asking for patience, as he believes the tariffs will lead to the creation of trade agreements more favorable to the United States.

Putze said the European Union announcement offers "positive energy" in an otherwise down agricultural market, but the lack of detail creates uncertainty.

The officials said payments couldn't be calculated until after harvests.

Soybean growers have been cushioned by the widespread use of forward contracts that allowed many to lock in high prices last spring, and analysts predict they will be buoyed at harvest by strong global demand for soybeans.

The Agriculture Department predicted before the trade fights that USA farm income would drop this year to $60 billion, or half the $120 billion of five years ago.

US eagerness to integrate into worldwide bodies, such as the World Trade Organization, mean that Washington, regardless of who was in charge, often overlooked Chinese misconduct, including the way it acquired foreign science and technology, Mr. Pillsbury said.