Published: Wed, July 25, 2018
Money | By Arnold Ball

European Union officials to meet Trump, wielding a $20-billion threat

European Union officials to meet Trump, wielding a $20-billion threat

Republican leaders across the country have been raising alarm bells to the administration for months, anxious that antipathy towards the administration from base Republican voters would make an already precarious midterm election season more risky for Republicans.

"The programs we're announcing today are a firm statement that other nations can not bully our agricultural producers to force the United States to cave in", Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said.

The EU announced earlier that it would proportionally respond to American trade tariffs, as well as initiate proceedings as part of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Republican senator Ron Johnson voiced the views of free traders in Trump's party, saying: "This is becoming more and more like a Soviet-type of economy here: commissars deciding who's going to be granted waivers, commissars in the administration figuring out how they're going to sprinkle around benefits". "This should help many of our farmers and ranchers weather the rough road ahead and assist in their dealings with their financial institutions".

Speaking Tuesday at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Kansas City, Mo., before the aid was announced, Trump told supporters the United States has "just put up with" what he described as imbalanced tariffs.

The plan for providing price supports, which doesn't need congressional approval, was rolled out just two days before Trump is set to travel to Iowa, the top USA soybean-producing state. While a trade mitigation package could boost farmer morale in the short term, this is ultimately a short term fix.

Soybean prices - in the face of trade fears with China - have hovered around historic lows for months, leading Republican lawmakers in red states to raise red flags about the impact these tariffs could have on Trump country.

Some were quick to denounce the proposal.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused China of targeting American farmers in a "vicious" way and using them as leverage to get concessions on trade.

"Trump wrote on Twitter Tuesday that the U.S.is a "'piggy bank' that's being robbed". "If tariffs punish farmers, the answer is not welfare for farmers - the answer is remove the tariffs".

US Challenges China, EU And Others At WTO Over Steel Tariffs
Washington could refuse to implement such a ruling but would then face the possibility of sanctions. The U.S. accounts for more than 30 percent of China's total consumption of the plant product.

Ebert is waiting to see the details of the aid package. Schinas said "This is an occasion to de-dramatize any potential tensions around trade and to engage in an open and constructive dialogue with our American partners".

"We gotta fight it", he said, referring to "disaster" trade deals.

The news, however, lifted shares of farm equipment companies on the prospect that farmers will have more money to spend on tractors and other farm gear.

Republican senators have come out against the Trump administration's latest plan to offer $12 billion worth of emergency relief to farmers being hurt by President Donald Trump's tariffs.

USA trading partners are retaliating against Mr. Trump's decision to order tariffs on imports including metals, clothing and electronics from a broad range of countries, including China, Mexico, Canada and European Union member states.

The affected countries have in turn targeted US agricultural products, including soybeans, dairy, meat, produce and liquor. "He is working with the Department of Agriculture to protect them and he'll keep doing that", White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters during Air Force One Gaggle.

Joel Schreurs, a soybean farmer from Tyler, Minnesota, said the plan was a "good start" but not a fix that works in the long run.

The GOP leader declined to say whether trade was discussed.

Farmers already have "quite a few" assistance programs, he said. "This proposed action would only be a short-term attempt at masking the long-term damage caused by tariffs".

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