Saying it would “never surrender” to outside pressure, China published a list of U.S. goods that would be hit by tariffs starting June 1. The list on the Ministry of Finance website includes more than 5,000 items with tariffs of 5 percent to 25 percent.
“We have said many times that adding tariffs won’t resolve any problem. China will never surrender to external pressure. We have the confidence and the ability to protect our lawful and legitimate rights,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a regular briefing earlier.
Meanwhile, U.S. soybean farmers say they remain frustrated by the lack of progress between the U.S. and China in resolving the trade war, which continues to immediately threaten soy prices and, if not resolved, farmers’ ability to stay in business. The American Soybean Association (ASA) has consistently opposed using unilateral tariffs to address U.S. trade deficits with China and other countries. Instead, ASA supports the negotiation of trade agreements and other measures that can increase U.S. agricultural exports, including soybeans.
“The U.S. has been at the table with China 11 times now and still has not closed the deal. What that means for soybean growers is that we’re losing. Losing a valuable market, losing stable pricing, losing an opportunity to support our families and our communities. These trade negotiations are serious for us. Farming is our livelihood,” said Davie Stephens, soy grower from Clinton, Ky., and ASA president.
Soybean industry leaders say they realize the administration’s reasons for trying to force China to make structural changes to its predatory economic policies, including forced technology transfers, intellectual property theft and subsidies to state-owned enterprises. Yet, ASA officials recommend that the U.S. achieve these goals through coordinated actions with like-minded developed countries.
“We’ve been understanding during this negotiation process, but we cannot withstand another year in which our most important foreign market continues to slip away and soybean prices are 20 to 25 percent, or even more, below pre-tariff levels,” said John Heisdorffer, ASA chairman and a Keota, Iowa, soy grower. “The sentiment out in farm country is getting grimmer by the day. Our patience is waning, our finances are suffering, and the stress from months of living with the consequences of these tariffs is mounting.”
Chinese state media blamed Washington for the crisis and argued that China’s economy and political system were strong enough to outlast the U.S. in a battle of wills.
The editor of the Communist Party-owned Global Times, Hu Xijin, earlier tweeted that China’s countermeasures would be carefully designed to ensure that its plan “hits the U.S. while minimizing damage to itself.”
Hopes for an end to the trade war plummeted Friday after the Trump administration raised tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent, a step that could threaten some Chinese companies heavily reliant on American exports.
With the U.S. threatening steps to impose tariffs on another $325 billion in goods, Hu earlier tweeted that such a step would end a stalemate that China would not lose, because of its political system.
Other state media took a similar line. An opinion piece in the People’s Daily condemned Washington’s “reckless leap into the dark” and said China would never compromise on matters of principle.
“The U.S. wielded the tariff stick once again because it misjudged China’s strength, capability and will power. By further escalating the trade tensions, does it really want to push its trade ties with China to breaking point?” read a piece under the byline Zhong Sheng, a pen name often used by the daily to express its opinions on foreign policy.
A Global Times editorial said Washington’s “fierce offensive” would hurt America more than China.
“Washington obviously hopes that the fierce tariff war, which is unprecedented in trade history, will crush China’s will in one fell swoop and force China to accept an unequal deal in a short term.
“However, once the country is strategically coerced, nothing is unbearable for China in order to safeguard its sovereignty and dignity as well as the long-term development rights of the Chinese people.”
The administration decided on May 10 to increase tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, from 10 to 25 percent, in order to increase pressure on China to make structural changes to its economic policies, and is also taking steps to impose a 25 percent tariff on the remaining $325 billion in annual imports from China. In turn, China retaliated. With this further escalation in trade tensions and no end in sight, the situation for U.S. growers is dire.
“The soybean market in China took us more than 40 years to build, and as this confrontation continues, it will become increasingly difficult to recover. With depressed prices and unsold stocks expected to double by the 2019 harvest, soybean farmers are not willing to be collateral damage in an endless tariff war,” Stephens said.
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