Anthony Harrup, Robbie Whelan and Paul Vieira reported on the front page of today's Wall Street Journal that, "President Donald Trump’s plans to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement this year looked unattainable Tuesday after negotiators appeared too far apart to strike a deal before a deadline this week."
The United States and China are set to continue discussions this week over their ongoing trade disputes. Meanwhile, China has increased inspections of U.S. pork imports while Chinese buyers continue to cancel U.S. soybean purchases. Also last week, the World Agricultural Outlook Board updated its forecasts for global soybean production and trade.
Late last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released updated agricultural trade data for the first half of this fiscal year (October - March). Meanwhile, President Trump sent members of his senior economic team to China for trade negotiations, but those talks ended Friday, "with no deal and no date set for further talks." Since April, China has canceled and curtailed purchases of key Corn Belt commodities. Today's update highlights recent news items that explore these developments in greater detail.
On Tuesday, Wall Street Journal writer William Mauldin reported that, "President Donald Trump’s top trade official wants to finish a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement by the middle of the month to get a revised pact to a vote in Congress by the end of this year."
In addition to the concern expressed last week by Senate Agriculture Committee members to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue regarding executive branch trade actions, recent news items continue to highlight the implications of ongoing trade disputes between the U.S. and China, particularly as it relates to sorghum and soybeans.
On the one-year anniversary of being confirmed by the Senate as the 31st U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue delivered testimony on Tuesday to the Senate Agriculture Committee at a hearing titled, "The State of Rural America." Sec. Perdue was quizzed by Senators about a variety of issues, including trade and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
China recently announced anti-dumping measures on U.S. sorghum. Meanwhile, potential action by China on U.S. soybeans continues to concern farm state lawmakers and agricultural producers alike. Today's update looks at recent news articles that explore these issues, and their potential implications, in greater detail.
On Monday, President Trump noted that ongoing trade turbulence with China could adversely impact U.S. agricultural producers already hampered by a sluggish U.S. farm economy. The President has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture for options to assist farmers negatively impacted by the recent trade developments. Meanwhile, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue faced questions from farm state lawmakers about trade issues, and potential responses, at a Senate hearing on Wednesday morning.
Today's update includes a brief explanation of recent trade tariff action taken by the U.S. and China. The trade uncertainty unfolds as agricultural producers anticipate another year of stagnant farm income, and while robust production of corn and soybeans in recent years has made exports an important component of demand. Overall, USDA has noted that agricultural exports account for 20 percent of U.S. farm income. Meanwhile, President Trump has instructed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to "implement a plan to protect our farmers and agricultural interests" as the trade tussle continues.
Since withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership on his first working day in office, and formally opening the North American Free Trade Agreement to the renegotiation process, President Trump's rhetoric on trade has perhaps caused more anxiety among agricultural producers than actual executive branch action. However, implementation of concrete trade policy from the Administration began to emerge in January of this year when the U.S. slapped tariffs on imports of solar panels and washing machines.