[Ip-health] New York Times: Trump Proposes Rejoining Trans-Pacific Partnership to Shield Farmers From Trade War

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Apr 12 11:25:55 PDT 2018


Trump Proposes Rejoining Trans-Pacific Partnership to Shield Farmers From
Trade War


APRIL 12, 2018

WASHINGTON — President Trump told a gathering of farm state lawmakers and
governors on Thursday morning that he was directing his advisers to look
into rejoining the multicountry trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific
Partnership, as the White House tries to come up with ways to protect the
agriculture sector, which could be badly hurt by the president’s trade

Rejoining the trade pact would be a surprising change in policy for Mr.
Trump, who long criticized the deal and withdrew from it last January, in
his first major trade action. The president has long maintained that he
prefers to negotiate trade deals one on one, a tactic he says gives the
United States better leverage over its trading partners.

But the risk of an escalating trade war with China has panicked American
farmers and ranchers, who send many of their products abroad. China has
responded to Mr. Trump’s threat of tariffs on as much as $150 billion worth
of Chinese goods by placing its own tariffs on American pork, and
threatening taxes on soybeans, sorghum, corn and beef.

China’s aggressive response to Mr. Trump’s tariffs is aimed squarely at
products produced in the American heartland, a region that helped send him
to the White House. A trade war with China could be particularly
devastating to rural economies, especially for pig farmers and soybean and
corn growers. Nearly two-thirds of United States soybean exports go to

The Trump administration says it has ordered the Agriculture Department to
create a program to help farmers hurt by trade. Trade advisers say the
department could use a program known as the Commodity Credit Corporation to
purchase potentially billions of dollars of crops from American farmers
harmed by tariffs.

But such a program would be time-consuming and costly and would come as the
budget deficit continues to increase. Many American agriculturalists
maintain that the easiest way to help them is to avoid a trade war with
China in the first place. And many economists say the best way to combat a
rising China and pressure it to open its market is through multilateral
trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which create favorable
trading terms for participants.

On Thursday, Republican senators, congressmen and governors from Iowa,
Nebraska, North Dakota, Kansas, Texas and other farming states met with the
president to express their concerns.

Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, said it was “good news” that the
president had directed his economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, and his trade
negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, to look into rejoining the deal. “The best
thing the United States can do to push back against Chinese cheating now is
to lead the other 11 Pacific nations that believe in free trade and the
rule of law,” Mr. Sasse said in a statement.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, said in a tweet on
Thursday that the farm state senators who attended the meeting had each
expressed concerns about “nervousness among farmers” because of Chinese

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

More information about the Ip-health mailing list