Trump Administration to Offer Multibillion-Dollar Bailout for US Farmers

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington

To help reduce some of the pain inflicted by a burgeoning trade war between the US and China and other nations, the Trump administration on Tuesday announced an aid package worth $12 billion for farmers who've been hurt by the tariffs.

Trump is also set to meet Wednesday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Farmers have been a particular target in the current clash over trade policy as other countries seek to retaliate for USA duties on Chinese goods as well as on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

Trump tweeted from the White House that US trade partners need to either negotiate a "fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs". The imposition of punishing tariffs on imported goods has been a favoured tactic by Trump, but it has prompted US trading partners to retaliate, creating risks for the economy.

Stephen Kirchner, from the University of Sydney's United States Studies Centre said that the $14 billion soybean industry is one of the hardest hit U.S. agricultural exports, after China slapped a 25 per cent tariff on all oilseeds.

In interviews with the Herald in China last month, Chinese officials said they were undaunted by Trump's threats to levy increasingly harsh tariffs as high as $500 billion on Chinese goods.

Trump has in recent months engaged in a multifront trade confrontation, imposing steep tariffs on steel, aluminum and tens of billions of dollars in Chinese goods, which sparked swift retaliation against key United States farm products like soy and pork.

US 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.

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"This is only a short-term solution", said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and is meant to give Trump time to rebalance trade rules worldwide.

The Trump administration is coming to the aid of farmers hurt by its own hard-line trade policies, announcing Tuesday it will make an estimated $12 billion in government assistance available, including direct payments to growers.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said at an worldwide summit in South Africa that the world faces "a choice between cooperation and confrontation", in remarks that criticized escalating US tariffs on goods from China and other major trading partners.

President Donald Trump's trade wars could become a major political drag for Republicans, with job losses and price increases piling up just as voters head to the polls in November. "They can compete with anybody if we can get free and fair trade".

"It's a Band-Aid on a broken leg", said Michael Petefish, a 33-year-old Trump supporter and fifth generation soybean farmer in southern Minnesota.

"We have to think of ourselves", Trump said in Kansas City.

US plans to subsidise American farmers caught in the US-China trade war signal an escalation in the hostilities, Chinese analysts have warned.

Reaction from trade partners to Trump's tariff policies have pushed soybean prices about 18 percent lower and corn and pork prices down 15 percent from the time Trump began discussing tariffs this spring.

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Agriculture officials say the plan will not require congressional approval.

European countries have the highest subsidies with Iceland, Norway and Switzerland providing more than 50 per cent of their farm income as government support measures while the U.S. provided almost eight per cent.

Slattery said he didn't support Trump in the last presidential election. But the taxes also exact a toll on US businesses and consumers, which pay more for imported products.

Last night Trump tweeted that he was hoping for the European Union to blink on tariffs.

The EU commission told press on Monday and Tuesday that Juncker was not going to the USA with a new EU offer on trade.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., blasted the plan on Twitter. "And President Trump is the first one to call them on that".

In a tweet, the USA president suggested that it was the European Union that stood in the way of free trade, and that his tough talk was forcing Brussels to the negotiating table.

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