WASHINGTON — President Trump told a gathering of farm state lawmakers and governors on Thursday morning that he was directing his advisers to look into rejoining the multicountry trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as the White House tries to come up with ways to protect the agriculture sector, which could be badly hurt by the president’s trade policies.
Rejoining the trade pact would be a surprising change in policy for Mr. Trump, who long criticized the deal and withdrew from it last January, in his first major trade action. The president has long maintained that he prefers to negotiate trade deals one on one, a tactic he says gives the United States better leverage over its trading partners.
But the risk of an escalating trade war with China has panicked American farmers and ranchers, who send many of their products abroad. China has responded to Mr. Trump’s threat of tariffs on as much as $150 billion worth of Chinese goods by placing its own tariffs on American pork, and threatening taxes on soybeans, sorghum, corn and beef.
China’s aggressive response to Mr. Trump’s tariffs is aimed squarely at products produced in the American heartland, a region that helped send him to the White House. A trade war with China could be particularly devastating to rural economies, especially for pig farmers and soybean and corn growers. Nearly two-thirds of United States soybean exports go to China.
Dear fellow readers, If Donald Trump wants to show he can learn, and is willing to embrace the Trans Pacific Partnership, one of Obama’s smartest, most sophisticated, and most difficult to explain treaties, we should all applaud! (Applause.)
Unfortunately, it will have its negative effects. I was looking forward to all those red, agricultural states, turning blue in anger over Trump’s dumb as doornails tariff war with China.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com