The US Department of Agriculture is coming to the rescue of the first major victims of President Donald Trump’s trade offensive, American farmers.
The agency announced on Tuesday a US$12 billion aid package to help prop up agricultural businesses that have already been feeling the pain of retaliatory tariffs imposed on the US by China, Canada, Mexico and the European Union.
“This is a short-term solution to allow President Trump time to work on long-term trade deals to benefit agriculture and the entire US economy,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a call with reporters, as quoted by Inside Trade. “The president promised to have the back of every American farmer and rancher, and he knows the importance of keeping our rural economy strong.”
Since Trump began following through on his campaign promise to enact tariffs, he has appeared to become increasingly emboldened, despite opposition from industry groups and lawmakers in his own party.
Last week, Trump suggested that he was ready to slap tariffs on all Chinese imports to the US, and was singing the praises of taxing imports again on Tuesday morning.
“Tariffs are the greatest!” the president said in a tweet. “Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade deals negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs,” he added.
Tariffs are the greatest! Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. It’s as simple as that – and everybody’s talking! Remember, we are the “piggy bank” that’s being robbed. All will be Great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2018
He went on to suggest that his tactics are working and that “everybody’s talking,” in reference to potential trade negotiations.
His Twitter rants come as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom are on their way to Washington to try to de-escalate trade tensions.
Off to Washington. Will be with @JunckerEU meeting @realDonaldTrump to discuss our trade relations and try to de-escalate the situation. We should work together to adress global steel overcapacity, WTO reform etc.
— Cecilia Malmström (@MalmstromEU) July 24, 2018
Both Malmstrom and Juncker have indicated openness to negotiating a deal to lower tariffs on automobiles, but the feasibility of such a deal, which would require all of the major auto-exporting nations to sign on, remains unclear.