Trump administration plans to send billions in emergency aid to US farmers affected by tariffs

The US government will provide up to US$12 billion in aid to American farmers hurt by the retaliatory tariffs imposed by trading partners

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2018, 12:51am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2018, 5:49am

The Trump administration readied a plan on Tuesday to send billions in emergency aid to farmers who have been caught in the crossfire of US President Donald Trump’s trade disputes with China and other US trading partners.

The US government will provide up to $12 billion in aid to American farmers hurt by the retaliatory tariffs imposed by trading partners, US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday.

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These actions are aimed “to assist farmers in response to trade damage caused by illegal retaliatory tariffs”, Perdue told reporters. He said this is a “short-term” solution to help farmers and give Trump time to negotiate a longer term trade deal.

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 imposed tariffs on US$34 billion in Chinese goods in a dispute over Beijing’s hi-tech industrial policies.

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

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Trump has threatened to place tariffs on up to US$500 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, 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.”

Trump 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 by Trump, but it has prompted US trading partners to retaliate, creating risks for the economy.

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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.

He has also threatened to slap tariffs on imported cars, trucks and auto parts, potentially targeting imports that last year totalled US$335 billion.

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

“We’re stopping the barriers to other countries. They send them in and take advantage of us,” Trump said. “This is the way it’s going to go – make our farmers great again.”

Trump 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 automobile production.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse.