Trade War: “American Farmers whine about Hardships”

When Russia stopped the import of agricultural products from the EU in late summer of 2014, reacting to the West’s sanctions against the Russian economy in the wake of the annexation of Crimea, the EU pledged 125 million Euros to support the affected farmers. European agricultural exports to Russia had been worth about 11.8 billion euros last year, or roughly $15.7 billion, the New York Times quoted Eurostat at the time, or ten percent of European agricultural trade.

On Tuesday this week, Donald Trump announced a plan that would provide US farmers with $12 billion, to lighten the effects of tarriffs imposed by China and the European Union, in retaliation to earlier US tarriff hikes. Politico quoted US agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue as saying that the $12 bn would be a match for “roughly $11 billion in negative effects that USDA has calculated agricultural producers have suffered as a result of “illegal” retaliatory tariffs imposed by China, Canada, Mexico, the European Union and other major economies.” Apart from direct payments to farmers, a purchasing program and support for farmers looking out for new markets are reportedly part of the plan.

Politico also quotes Republican lawmakers – and farmers – as criticising the program, and demanding an end to the trade war. However, an NBC correspondent points out that the Trump administration’s support programs makes sense for Republican Congress people who would otherwise face “the treacherous choice of letting farmers suffer or criticizing a president who is immensely popular among their constituents.”

Guanchazhe , a paper from Shanghai, posted a report on its website today, recalling that

In spite of opposing voices at home, the Trump administration added 25 percent to import tarriffs on Chinese goods at a value of $34 billion*), from the beginning of July. In reaction, China imposed 25 percent of import tarriffs on the same scale of American products, including American agricultural products.

不顾国内反对声音,特朗普政府于本月初对价值340亿美元的中国商品加征25%的进口关税。作为反击,中国于同日对同等规模的美国产品加征25%的进口关税,美国农产品被列入征税清单。

Guanchazhe suggests that

Trump appears to have recognized that it is exactly the trade clash provoked by him that has shocked the farmers. According to earlier Guanchazhe Network reports, on July 24 local time, the American agriculture secretary announced the biggest emergency assistance plan for farmers since 1998, with a total of $12 billion, to help the farmers to avoid losses.

特朗普似乎意识到了正是自己挑起的贸易冲突,使得农民受到冲击。据观察者网此前报道,当地时间24日,美国农业部公布了一项1998年以来规模最大的农业紧急援助计划,金额为120亿美元,以帮助农民免受损失。

Guanchazhe then quotes Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang as saying that China was a major buyer of American agricultural goods: “For many years, Sino-American agricultural cooperation has continuously broadened, it has deepened by the day, with honest mutual benefits. One should say that it is mutually beneficial and mutually profitable” (多年来,中美农业合作不断扩大,日益深化,给双方带来了实实在在的利益,应该说是互利共赢的). Currently however, it was America that was “adopting unilateralism and trade protectionism, going back on its words (言而无信) and contradicting itself (出尔反尔), insistently provoking a trade war against China.” Geng is also quoted as saying that the American farmers were “paying the bill for the American government’s bullying.”

Trump provokes a trade clash with one hand, the article says, and

as other countries are forced to strike back, he now wants to placate the farmers with an emergency assistance plan, plus peddling words on social media about how he likes and values the farmers and about attacking China – will American farmers buy this?

现在想通过紧急援助来安抚美国农民,另一边又在社交媒体上兜售对农民“爱与尊重”的说辞,攻击中国,美国农民会买账吗?

The article quotes two farmers by name, both of them with rather balances statements that emphasize the need for long-term solutions and maintaining their market positions, but without criticizing Trump.

All the same, the two measured statements are lumped together with Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse‘s criticism that the assistance program was about “gold crutches”. The article then moves on to July 25:

According to Reuters, on July 25 local time, Trump met Congress members from agricultural states to discuss trade issues. House agricultural committee chairman Mike Conaway thanked the government for the assistant measures, and lauded the agreement Trump had reached with visiting EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker earlier that day to eliminate trade barriers.

据路透社报道,当地时间25日,特朗普会见了农业州国会议员,共商贸易课题。众议院农业委员会主席科纳韦(Mike Conaway)感谢政府为农民推出的援助措施,并赞许特朗普当天较早前接见到访的欧盟委员会主席容克时,与对方达成协议,争取消除贸易壁垒。

Conaway issued a statement saying that “I’m thanking the President and Secretary Perdue for supporting our farmers and ranchers.”

科纳韦发布声明说:“我感谢总统和珀杜(农业)部长给予我们的农民和牧场主的支持。”

However, Lisa Murkowski, Republican senator for Alaska, tweeted that Trump needed “to recognize that trade assistance can’t replace actual trade.”

不过,阿拉斯加州共和党参议员穆尔科斯基(Lisa Murkowski)在推特发文呼吁特朗普,“认清贸易援助是无法取代贸易本身”。

While the article avoids strong language, the editorial department apparently chose to create more appealing impressions: American farmers whine about hardships, Trump falsely accuses China of ‘malignance’ (贸易战美国农民叫苦 特朗普反诬中国“恶毒”).

According to English-language reports, Trump referred to China’s tarriffs on US agricultural goods as “vicious”, and according to a report by Reuters on Wednesday, Murkowski urged Trump on Twitter to “recognize that trade assistance is no substitute for trade itself.”

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Notes

*) In other reports at the time, trade volumes of $50 billion were mentioned

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Related

FMPRC Regular Press Conference, July 26, 2018
外交部例行记者会, FMPRC, July 26, 2018
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