Monday, June 18, 2018

Trump announces Chinese tariffs; China responds with its own tariffs on crops, coal, oil, cars, whiskey and more

Despite the Trump administration's announcement last month that the U.S. and China had created the "framework" of a trade agreement, the president announced 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods that contain "industrially significant technologies." The administration also said it would announce tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese goods later this summer. China swiftly responded with an announcement that it will slap 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion in U.S. goods such as pork, chicken and soybeans on July 6, and will announce 25 percent tariffs on $16 billion in U.S. goods later this summer, Chris Clayton reports for DTN/The Progressive Farmer.

China's tariffs are carefully calculated to hurt the rural communities that voted for President Trump in 2016. Industries that Chinese tariffs would hurt include soybeans, dairy, alfalfa, seafood, coal, oil, automobiles, and whiskey, Alexander Kwiatkowski reports for Bloomberg.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said at a press conference late Friday that the effect of the tariffs won't be immediately apparent, and urged reporters not to pay too much attention to the sharp drop in grain and oilseed commodity futures that accompanied the announcement, Clayton reports. "You can't demonstrate any damage on the day that tariffs are announced," Perdue told reporters. "We're going to look at this very carefully. We're going to calculate -- we have been calculating market impact on a weekly basis on a number of months now, frankly. . . . When we determine, and if we determine, there is legitimate and lasting market impact, based on market disruption of tariffs and retaliation, then we're prepared to take action." The action he may be referring to is whether or not to tap into Commodity Credit Corp. funds to help farmers.

The American Soybean Association called the tariffs "devastating" in a press release, and cited a Purdue University study predicting that soybean exports to China could drop by as much as 65 percent if China imposes its retaliatory tariffs. Davie Stephens, a Kentucky soybean farmer and vice president of the ASA, said in the press release that China buys about 60 percent of all U.S. soybean exports and that "frankly, it's not a market U.S. soybean farmers can afford to lose."

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