Jul 31 2018
Trump has come under political pressure from USA farmers over his trade actions that have seen American agricultural produce hit hard with retaliatory tariffs, especially by China, the largest single consumer of American soybean exports.
But if Trump's tariffs on steel, solar panels and other goods are hurting farmers, the obvious solution is not an expensive $12 billion subsidy program.
After a meeting at the White House between U.S. President Donald Trump and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the two leaders declared a temporary truce to escalating trade tensions and agreed to begin negotiations to eliminate tariffs and subsidies on everything but cars.
Those commodities are soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy, and hogs. Numerous mechanisms that are protecting farmers this season will weaken next year if prices remain low.
If you ask market watchers, they will tell you it puts a choke hold on the economy - it saves some jobs but then causes prices to increase.
The package is meant to be a one-time, short-term solution to the trade war fallout, according to USDA.
There wasn't a lot of positive hoopla from soybean farmers either.
Specifically, USDA will authorize up to $12 billion in programs, which is in line with the estimated $11 billion impact of unjustified retaliatory tariffs on USA agricultural goods. Every market is an important one, particularly China, which imports one of every three rows of US soybeans.
Other European officials also expressed relief after Trump and Juncker agreed to tackle their transatlantic trade dispute.
More details on each facet of the program will be unveiled in the coming weeks and months.
"I was in the room and we had specific conversations about agriculture and the need to break down the barriers on agriculture and have more opportunities for our farmers", Mnuchin said on Fox News.
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That deal fell apart quickly and has been replaced with a rising tally of tariff retaliation that has led to Trump threatening tariffs on nearly everything the United States imports from China.
For one, this program can not create additional foreign demand that does not exist. How much time does the president think he can devote to trade alone?
After a phony war stretching to the earliest days of his presidency, Donald Trump fired off the loudest salvo yet in his trade battle with China in July.
Chinese demand was a driving factor, and today the East Asian country accounts for one-third of global soybean consumption. Jim Heimerl, President of the National Pork Producers Council, noted that "the restrictions we face in critical markets such as Mexico and China - our top two export markets by volume a year ago - have placed American pig farmers and their families in dire financial straits" and thanked the president for the measures.
By the mid-2000s, that share was just below 40 percent. Lawmakers in Washington on Thursday passed legislation to slow Chinese investment in US companies.
It is clear that USDA's efforts are not going to establish a comparable trade relationship anytime soon. Trump tweeted on July 20 that "China, the European Union and others have been manipulating their currencies and interest rates lower". The proposal of a food purchase and distribution program, although not exactly the same, sounds alarmingly similar to the Chinese strategy of state purchasing.
The situation is similar for grain and oilseed crops, as well as pork, which was also hit by Chinese tariffs but enjoyed year-high prices in May and June. China buys roughly 30 percent of all America's soy, and the tariff guarantees Chinese buyers will look to other countries.
The aid package comes ahead of U.S. mid-term elections in November.
"[Trump's] a free trader".
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