By Nathaniel Valyo, National News Writer
China’s response to Donald Trump’s trade tariff is leaving American farmers wondering if it is wise to remain in the agriculture industry.
Hours after President Trump proposed 25 percent tariffs worth $50 billion on Chinese imports, The Chinese government responded with tariffs of their own on American exports like soybeans and airplanes, which together earned nearly $23 billion from China in the year 2017 alone. Mr. Trump’s tariff on Chinese goods would affect nearly 1,300 categories of Chinese goods, including items such as medical products, technology, and various consumer products – among them mobile phones, clothing and shoes. The Chinese tariff on American-made products would only affect 106 categories; however it encompasses high-profile items like the aforementioned soybeans and airplanes, and other agricultural items like beef, sorghum, and corn. A majority of the American products are made in states which voted for Mr. Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election.
The tariffs slapped on American products are of equal value to the U.S.-imposed tariffs on Chinese products, according to the State Council of China last Wednesday, April 4. “Both sides have put their lists on the table,” stated Zhu Guangyao, the Vice Finance Minister of China. “Now it’s time for negotiations.”
Mr. Trump’s proposed tariffs will not be implemented for quite some time, however. American companies have until May 22 to object, and the United States government will then have 180 days to decide whether to continue with the original tariffs. When asked by reporters if the tariffs may never be implemented and are actually being used as a simple negotiating tactic instead, Larry Kudlow, Mr. Trump’s top economic adviser, responded, “Yes, it’s possible. It’s part of the process.”
The Chinese ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, told reporters, “Negotiation would still be our preference, but it takes two to tango. We will see what the United States will do,” after a meeting with acting Secretary of State John Sullivan.
Although the tariffs are a long way from being slapped on Chinese goods, fear is rising among farmers and agricultural producers in the United States. The back-and-forth forth debating between China and the United States has already taken a toll on the stock market, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping nearly 300 points last Wednesday after news of the Chinese tariffs broke. Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, urged lawmakers that the United States’ “proposed tariffs and China’s equivalent response are a poison pill to U.S. manufacturing and production, the innovation economy and American pocketbooks.”
The soybean industry will likely take the biggest hit if the tariffs are implemented. China is by a wide margin the largest recipient of American soybeans, accounting for nearly 58 percent of all foreign sales, according to data gathered by the United States Department of Agriculture. Brent Bible, a soybean farmer from Indiana, told U.S. News & World Report, “I’m supportive of the Trump administration, but I have a lot of concerns about current actions that have been taken on trade and tariffs.” He later expressed his fears over being “one of the first casualties in a trade war.”
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 10th print edition.
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