Monday, May 21, 2018

U.S. and China step back from threatened tariffs; Trump tweets at farmers worried about trade war

After two days of negotiation between Chinese and U.S. officials in Washington, D.C., the Trump administration has announced the framework of an agreement between the two countries in their ongoing trade dispute, leading both to step back from threatened tariffs that would hurt American farmers, David Lynch reports for The Washington Post. But the deal's lack of specifics has left interested parties dissatisfied and led many to question whether President Trump, who prides himself on his negotiating skills, is giving away too much to the Chinese.

Trump had earlier demanded a $200 billion reduction in the $375 billion U.S. trade deficit with China, but while the tentative agreement apparently does not meet that goal, he has halted tariffs he had threatened to impose on $150 billion worth of Chinese products. A joint statement issued on Saturday said the U.S. would send a team to China to hammer out the details, "which also may include expanded trade in manufactured goods and stronger 'cooperation' in enforcement of intellectual property protections," Lynch reported in an earlier story for the Post.

On Friday, China's Ministry of Commerce announced it would halt the investigation into U.S. sorghum exports and remove the 178.6 percent anti-dumping tariff it had imposed on U.S. sorghum one month ago. The announcement could be construed as a goodwill gesture in ongoing trade talks. "Chinese officials also said the price of domestic pork in China was falling and restrictions on imported sorghum would increase feed costs on pork producers as well," Chris Clayton reports for DTN/The Progressive Farmer.

The trade war was undermining Trump's agricultural base, to which he appealed on Twitter. He tweeted, "China has agreed to buy massive amounts of ADDITIONAL Farm/Agricultural Products," but that does not appear to be true, since there is no agreement. Two hours later, he tweeted, "Under our potential deal with China, they will purchase from our Great American Farmers practically as much as our Farmers can produce." That remains to be seen; as he clarified, the deal is "potential."

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