I open up Europe for U.S. farmers

Anna Jefferson
July 28, 2018

Trump and officials from his administration said the European Union had given ground by agreeing to import more American goods and to hold talks on tariff reductions including on cars, an industry in which Trump has accused Europe of imposing heavy duties.

Trump, joined by European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, said Wednesday that the two key economies reached agreement to boost trade of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and soybeans as they defused an escalating trade dispute.

At the start of this month, China retaliated against Trump by imposing its own 25 per cent tariffs on key USA products, primarily made in the Midwest states most loyal to the President.

On July 24, the Department of Agriculture announced a plan to give $12 billion in aid to US farmers hit by retaliatory worldwide tariffs on American produce, grain and meat exports.

The would prioritise "to work together towards zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods", a statement said. As American soybean farmers have struggled in recent months, Juncker says the European Union can buy more soybeans and will immediately do so.

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The tweet came on the same day that Trump issued this one, amid news that his administration was starting a $12 billion plan to help USA farmers amid trade disputes.

Trump hailed it as a "breakthrough agreement", while Juncker said it was a "good and instructive meeting". "Our friendship runs much deeper than that - just like the people of Wiltz in Luxembourg will tell you.(Major Battle of the Bulge in 1944-45) And this today was a good day for the transatlantic partnership, for Europe and for the United States of America". For the time being, these new tariffs appear less likely to be instituted, but this is not the first time that the President has pulled back from the brink of a trade war, only to conduct an escalating foray if he feels his trade "foes" haven't submitted themselves fully enough to his freakish and counterfactual vision of the global trade order.

China has counterpunched with tariffs on American products, including soybeans and pork - a shot at Trump supporters in the United States heartland.

"I think if we hadn't done the steel and aluminum tariffs, and if we hadn't had the threat of automotive tariffs, we never would have gotten to the point where we are now", he said. The trouble is, China a year ago imported $12.3 billion in United States soybeans, the European Union just $1.6 billion.

U.S. import tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium, implemented in March, will remain in place during the talks.

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An EU official said there was significant pressure from Trump administration officials to increase EU soybean purchases as part of any trade deal. "The EU continues to stand up for free and fair trade". China's middle class is bigger than the entire US population.

"The idea that imports of steel or aluminium from your closest ally could threaten the national security of this country [as Trump had claimed] - this goes against all logic and against all history", Juncker said.

Mnuchin said there were no new developments on the dispute with China, which has been the target of most of Trump's trade policies. It will also allow USA consumers to purchase European goods at cheaper prices, putting more money in their pockets and stimulating the US economy.

Mary Lovely, a Syracuse University economist who studies a trade, said, "The Chinese are not going to be buying our soybeans, so nearly by musical chairs, our soybeans are going to Europe".

On Tuesday, the White House announced US$12 billion (S$16.3 billion) worth of aid for farmers affected by retaliatory tariffs.

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