Trump admits farmers will be affected
President Donald Trump acknowledged Monday that farmers could be adversely affected by the escalating tariff dispute with China, but promised to make it up to them, saying they “will be better off than they ever were.”
Speaking at a Cabinet meeting, Trump addressed the Chinese threat to slap tariffs on soybeans and other agriculture staples grown in rural America, a move that could hit Midwestern farmers, many of whom are strong supporters of the president.
“If during the course of the negotiation they want to hit the farmers because they think that hits me, I wouldn’t say that’s nice, but I tell you our farmers are great patriots,” Trump said. “They understand that they’re doing this for the country. We’ll make it up to them. In the end, they’re going to be much stronger than they are right now.”
China is threatening the tariffs in response to Trump moving to enact protectionist measures as punishment for Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property. The U.S. bought more than $500 billion in goods from China last year and is planning or considering penalties on some $150 billion of those imports. The U.S. sold about $130 billion in goods to China in 2017 and faces a potentially devastating hit if China responds in kind.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was working with his team “to determine how best to respond to China’s attack on American farmers” and had asked the Agriculture Department to provide him with a plan to protect U.S. farmers.
As the economic saber-rattling shakes global markets, Trump said Monday he had a good relationship with China and with President Xi Jinping, but repeated his claim that China has been “taking advantage of the United States for many years.” He added that he doesn’t blame China, but American leaders for creating a “lopsided” set of trade rules.
Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted about the “STUPID TRADE” with China, saying that when a Chinese-made vehicle is sent to the U.S., the tariff is only 2.5 percent, while American cars exported to China are slapped with a 25 percent tariff.