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INSIDE WASHINGTON: There’s still time to resolve China trade spatINSIDE WASHINGTON: There’s still time to resolve China trade spat

U.S. has another six months to reach mutually beneficial trade position with China.

Jacqui Fatka

April 5, 2018

2 Min Read
INSIDE WASHINGTON: There’s still time to resolve China trade spat

This week has been characterized by a tit-for-tat trade sparring with China, but the good news for farmers is that there still is time before the worst of the tariffs – such as the 25% tariff on soybeans, corn and beef – could go into effect.

Under the U.S. plan, companies have until May 22 to object to China's proposed tariffs, and the U.S. government then has at least 180 days to decide whether to go ahead, providing ample time for negotiations.

Larry Kudlow, director of President Donald Trump’s National Economic Council, said the tariffs the U.S. proposed Tuesday will take a couple of months to finalize. “I doubt if there would be any concrete action for several months. We’ll see how that plays out," he said. "Nothing concrete has actually happened. These are proposals, but the message is clear: China has to stop these unfair and illegal trading violations.”

China announced that it has taken the first step in challenging the U.S. trade restrictions at the World Trade Organization; the implementation date of China’s tariffs depends on bilateral negotiations and when the U.S. intends to apply its own tariffs, according to Denise Bode, from Michael Best Strategies.

Kudlow added that the U.S. is going to WTO and said he’d be very surprised if there isn't a huge backing from other nations around the world joining the U.S. not only in tariff complaints but also in WTO complaints.

Related:China’s trade escalation offers hope for resolution

“Trump is putting his cards on the table. He’s standing up for this country but also standing up for better world trade,” Kudlow said.

Ian Sheldon, agricultural trade economist at Ohio State University, said the U.S. should back away from the range of tariffs it has proposed and instead go to WTO to figure out how to resolve these issues. “This is taking a sledge hammer to deal with this problem,” Sheldon said.

The reason the world has predominantly been able to prevent trade wars is because of the dispute process allowed under WTO.

Agricultural groups dealt with huge market blows after Wednesday’s news. The hope is that all of the cards are now on the table and that negotiations can come through with a win.

National Corn Growers Assn. chairman Wesley Spurlock said, “Our corn farmers have worked for decades to support fair and open trade practices, because we understand that trade is a two-way street. In today’s global economy, we know that we need to be competitive to grow and maintain our market share. Our farmers have done that, which is why agriculture has a positive trade balance."

Spurlock added, “We do have a window of opportunity to reach a mutually beneficial trade position with China until the time that tariffs are fully implemented. We need to be measured, professional and business-like in our approach to keeping the trade doors open with China. Equally important, we need the President to understand the implications these trade actions have for America’s farm families.”

Related:China's ag retaliatory tariffs become reality

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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