Trump Trade Advisor: We will protect farmers in China trade

April 6, 2018


President Donald Trump will make sure that farmers don’t suffer financially as a result of his decision to potentially levy tariffs on up to $150 billion of Chinese goods, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Friday.

“He will have the backs of American farmers when China tries to attack them,” Navarro said in an interview on “Fox and Friends.” “He’s directed the Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, a great American, to implement a plan immediately to prevent any harm done to our American farmers. So, we want to assure you that that plan will be put in place immediately.”

Navarro was commenting on the escalating trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies. Earlier this week, the Trump administration unveiled a list of about $50 billion worth of Chinese goods that it planned to hit with 25 percent tariffs to punish China for alleged intellectual property theft.

China responded by threatening to impose tariffs on about $50 billion worth of American goods, including soybeans — the number two U.S. export to China, valued at about $12.3 billion in 2017 — and additional farm products like sorghum.

In response to that threat, Trump directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer Thursday night to consider drawing up a list of up to $100 billion of additional Chinese goods that could be hit with duties, for a total of $150 billion. That would represent about 30 percent of the $505 billion of U.S. imports from China last year.

Business groups and some lawmakers have accused Trump of launching a potentially damaging trade war with China without a clear plan or set of objectives.

On Friday, Navarro indicated that Trump hoped to achieve some kind of negotiated settlement, but argued past efforts to resolve U.S. concerns through dialogue had failed.

“He’s sending a very clear message to China,” Navarro said. “He has a great relationship with the president of China. [But] this is business, and this is the kind of business where we have to stand firm against China’s unfair trade practices.”

Navarro insisted the Trump administration had “done everything possible to try to get the Chinese to clean up their act” before deciding to move ahead with tariffs. He also said the U.S. government was reaching out to other countries to help pressure China to improve its behavior.

“We are united in this with our allies and partners. We’re working together to stop Chinese economic aggression,” he said. “Everybody in the world knows that China is doing this.”

Some other countries have imposed anti-dumping and countervailing duties on China’s exports. But no other country has proposed anything like the broad tariff action that Trump is threatening.