Wednesday 29 January 2020

Trump plans emergency aid for American farmers affected by tariffs

The US president said on Twitter that ‘Tariffs are the greatest!’

Mr Trump, bearing a ‘make our farmers great again’ cap (AP)
Mr Trump, bearing a ‘make our farmers great again’ cap (AP)

By Ken Thomas

The US government is planning to send billions of dollars in emergency aid to farmers who have been caught in the crossfire of President Donald Trump’s trade disputes with China and other American trading partners.

The agriculture department is expected to announce the proposal that would include direct assistance and other temporary relief for farmers.

The plan comes with Mr Trump scheduled to speak at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Kansas City in the heart of the nation’s farm country.

Mr Trump declared earlier on Tuesday that “Tariffs are the greatest!” and threatened to impose additional penalties on US trading partners as he prepared for negotiations with European officials at the White House.

The Trump administration has slapped tariffs on 34 billion dollars (£26 billion) in Chinese goods in a dispute over Beijing’s high-tech industrial policies.

China has retaliated with duties on soybeans and pork, affecting Midwest farmers in a region of the country that supported the president in his 2016 campaign.

Mr Trump has threatened to place tariffs on up to 500 billion dollars (£380 billion) in products imported from China, a move that would dramatically ratchet up the stakes in the trade dispute involving the globe’s biggest economies.

Before departing for Kansas City, Mr Trump tweeted that US trade partners need to either negotiate a “fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. It’s as simple as that”.

The president has engaged in hard-line trading negotiations with China, Canada and European nations, seeking to renegotiate trade agreements he says have undermined the nation’s manufacturing base and led to a wave of job losses in recent decades.

The imposition of punishing tariffs on imported goods has been a favoured tactic of Mr Trump, but it has prompted US trading partners to retaliate, creating risks for the American economy.

Mr Trump has placed tariffs on imported steel and aluminium, saying they pose a threat to US national security, an argument that allies such as the European Union and Canada reject.

Car workers demonstrate against tariffs in Washington (AP)

He has also threatened to slap tariffs on imported cars, trucks and car parts, potentially targeting imports that last year totalled 335 billion dollars (£225 billion).

During a Monday event at the White House featuring American-made goods, Mr Trump displayed a green hat that read: “Make Our Farmers Great Again”.

Mr Trump said: “We’re stopping the barriers to other countries. They send them in and take advantage of us.

“This is the way it’s going to go – make our farmers great again.”

The president is meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday.

The US and European allies have been at odds over the president’s tariffs on steel imports and are meeting as the trade dispute threatens to spread to car production.

PA Media

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