US soy farmers and industry on Tuesday urged President Donald Trump to pull back from his tariff threat and quickly bring an end to the trade dispute with China.
That message was reinforced by financial markets, as US stocks fell by more than two percent for the first time in months amid concerns the renewed trade tensions could scuttle a deal.
Trump has vowed to more than double the tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods starting Friday, after US negotiators accused Beijing of reneging on commitments made during months of talks that aim to reduce the US trade deficit, clamp down on theft of US technology and reduce China’s massive subsidies.
American soy farmers have found themselves in the crosshairs of Chinese retaliation, and prolonging the battle will be even more damaging, Davie Stephens president of the American Soybean Association (ASA), said in a statement.
Stephens, a grower from Clinton, Kentucky, said “farmers are in a desperate situation. We need a positive resolution of this ongoing tariff dispute, not further escalation of tensions.”
China is a key market for US soy bean exports, but last year sales plunged by about 75 percent compared to 2017 to just over $3 billion, after China retaliated against US farmers with 25 percent tariffs.
Stephens said prices already are depressed, so “we need the China market reopened to US soybean exports within weeks, not months or longer,” and before the 2019 harvest begins in September.
“The financial and emotional toll on US soybean farmers cannot be ignored.”
The chemical industry is facing similar difficulties, and also called for the White House to work fast.
“The risks of continuing to use tariffs as a negotiating tactic with China are simply too high — and any potential benefits still unclear,” American Chemistry Council President Cal Dooley said in a statement.
“China supplies the United States with several chemicals which are not available anywhere else and which are critical inputs to US manufacturing,” he said, noting that China is also is the number three US export market.
– Talks will go on –
Despite the tougher US rhetoric, China said Tuesday its top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, would lead Beijing’s delegation to the talks in Washington on Thursday and Friday, a day later than originally scheduled.
“China always believes that mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit are the premise and the basis for reaching an agreement. Adding tariffs will not solve any problem,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular media briefing.
Trump’s new tariff announcements have tanked stock markets worldwide as investors, like worried US farmers and businesses, had been banking on a resolution to the year-long conflict that has engulfed $360 billion in two-way trade.
Markets slumped even further on Tuesday, and Wall Street, which had been less pessimistic, fell more than two percent in afternoon trading.
US officials say the world’s two largest economies had been close to an agreement but they claim Beijing reversed course in recent days.
“Over the course of the last week or so, we’ve seen an erosion in commitments by China, I would say, retreating from commitments that have already been made in our judgment,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was quoted as saying in media reports on Monday.
He said the tariffs would increase at 12:01 am (0401 GMT) on Friday.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin described the negotiations as 90 percent complete but told reporters that in recent days the talks had gone “substantially backward,” according to the media reports.
Trump vowed Sunday to ratchet up existing tariffs this week and also to extend the 25 percent punitive duties to the remaining $350 billion in Chinese goods imported into the country each year.
– Growth fears –
The tensions have renewed fears that the trade war could spill over into the global economy.
Speaking in Paris, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said “tensions between the United States and China are the threat for the world economy.”
Oxford Economics warned that escalating the tariffs to the remaining Chinese goods, which would be expected to spark further retaliation from Beijing, would cut 0.3 percentage points off US growth.
But William Reinsch, a trade policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, cautioned that China will never meet all the US demands, which complicates Trump’s strategy.
“The most important things are the things the Chinese won’t give,” he told AFP, including reducing subsidies and subjecting state-owned enterprises to market forces.
“The Chinese are not going to do either of those things,” so “the path to political victory for him is a narrow one,” he said.
UK’s Boris Johnson looks set for big win in ‘Brexit election’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's ruling party appeared on course for a sweeping victory in Thursday's snap election, an exit poll showed, paving the way for Britain to leave the EU next month after years of political deadlock.
The Conservatives were forecast to win a thumping 368 out of 650 seats in parliament -- which if confirmed would be the party's biggest majority in three decades -- according to the survey published as polls closed.
The pound jumped by about two percent against the dollar on the projected results of what all sides had painted as the most momentous election in Britain in a generation.
Maddow reports on ‘a tide of major newspaper editorials’ drowning Trump’s impeachment defenses
On Thursday, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow noted the sheer volume of editorial boards from newspapers across America calling for President Donald Trump's impeachment and removal from office.
"The editorials that Steve Cohen introduced into the record there that Doug Collins from Georgia said he wanted to read and Steve Cohen said 'I'd love for you to read them,' they're part of a tide of major newspaper editorials that have come out all of a sudden in the last few days in favor of impeachment," said Maddow. "USA TODAY's editorial board saying, quote, 'Until recently we believed impeachment proceedings would be unhealthy for an already polarized nation, rather than simply leaving Trump's fate up to voters next November. But Trump's egregious transgressions and stonewalling in his thuggish effort to trade American arms for foreign dirt on Joe Biden resembled Richard Nixon. It's precisely the type of misconduct the framers had in mind when they wrote impeachment into the Constitution."
‘People died in Ukraine’: Democrat lectures Doug Collins for Trump’s abuse of power costing lives
During Thursday's impeachment hearing, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) laid bare the human cost of President Donald Trump's decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine to force them to hunt for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden's family — something that ranking member Doug Collins (R-GA) spent the previous day denying.
"In my colleague's efforts to defend this president, you want him to be someone he's not. You want him to be someone he is telling you he is not," said Swalwell. "You're trying to defend the call in so many different ways, and he's saying, guys, it was a perfect call. He's not who you want him to be. And let me tell you how selfish his acts were. And ranking member Collins, you can deny this as much as you want. People died in Ukraine at the hands of Russia," said Swalwell. "In Ukraine, since September 2018 when it was voted on by Congress, was counting on our support. One year passed and people died. And you may not want to think about that, it may be hard for you to think about that, but they died when the selfish, selfish president withheld the aid for his own personal gain."