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Grassley says he will blow the whistle if Chinese backslide on trade deal

As soon as President Trump and Chinese vice premier Liu He sign a “phase one” agreement to de-escalate the China-U.S. trade war today, Senate Finance chairman Chuck Grassley will be on watch for Chinese compliance with provisions such as large purchases of U.S. farm goods. “If they aren’t, they can count on the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee to call them on it,” said the Iowa Republican.

“I’m just asking them to keep their word,” Grassley told farm broadcasters on Tuesday. “We may not know their good-faith efforts for a few years. But it’s very quantifiable. Are they $40 or $50 billion in agricultural product?”

Read More: What's in the U.S - China Phase 1 trade deal

The White House provided few details ahead of the signing ceremony to be held at midday at the White House, although administration officials said the pact obligated China to increase its imports of manufacturing, agriculture, services, and energy products by $200 billion.

The purchases would be made over two years, said the South China Morning Post on Tuesday. Three sources told the newspaper the targets included $40 billion in U.S. farm goods. In exchange, the United States canceled tariffs due to take effect on December 15 and would halve the 15% duty on $120 billion of Chinese-made products. It would maintain a 25% tariff on $250 billion of Chinese products. Reuters quoted sources as saying China would boost agricultural purchases by $32 billion over two years.\

Read More: Senate to give Trump a trade victory days before impeachment trial 

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said the administration has authority under the agreement to rule within 90 days on a complaint that China violated “phase one” and could reimpose tariffs in response “and the Chinese have promised not to retaliate,” reported Politico.

Before the trade war, China was the largest market for U.S. farm exports, with purchases averaging $21 billion a year. In late November, the USDA estimated sales would total $11 billion this year. Retaliatory Chinese have reduced U.S. agriculture exports overall.

Read More: China to signifcantly increase U.S. soybean imports after phase 1 trade deal

The Trump administration gave $10.8 billion to farmers and ranchers to mitigate the impact of the trade war on 2019 production. It has yet to say if it will release a final tranche of $3.6 billion out of the $14.5 billion offered to producers.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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