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Trump says he ‘wouldn’t mind’ scrapping Nafta for bilateral deals

By Justin Sink • Jun 2, 2018 at 6:00 PM

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Friday he “wouldn’t mind” pursuing separate trade deals with Canada and Mexico in lieu of the North America Free Trade Agreement.

“These are two very different countries,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “But I wouldn’t mind seeing a separate deal with Canada, where you have one type of product, so to speak, and a separate deal with Mexico.”

Trump went on to say the U.S. loses “a lot of money with Canada” and “a fortune with Mexico” and that while he loved both countries, they took “advantage of us economically.” He singled out Mexico for attracting U.S. auto manufacturers and Canada for restrictions on American agriculture imports.

The president’s remarks came less than a day after he warned Canada in a statement issued by the White House that a renegotiated Nafta accord must be “a fair deal, or there will be no deal at all.” Earlier Friday, Trump said Canada had treated American farmers poorly and called for a reduction in trade barriers.

The U.S. president’s escalated rhetoric came after Trudeau expressed frustration over Trump’s decision to end an exemption for Canada and other allies from steel and aluminum tariffs. Trudeau said Canada would respond with dollar-for-dollar retaliatory tariffs, and said a proposed meeting with Trump to potentially secure a Nafta deal collapsed after Vice President Mike Pence called and insisted the meeting was conditional on adding a sunset clause.

Quitting Nafta would be yet another explosive and controversial trade move by the Trump administration. The U.S., Canada and Mexico trade more than a trillion dollars in goods annually. It would also signal no one is safe: Mexico and Canada are the top two buyers of U.S. exports.

Earlier this week, Trudeau said that killing the deal could be better than swallowing unfavorable revisions to the 1994 trade pact.

“No Nafta is better than a bad deal, and we’ve made that very clear to the president,” Trudeau said during a Bloomberg interview in Toronto.

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Tariffs could decrease Ohio farm income by estimated 59 percent

WORTHINGTON, Ohio — With new research demonstrating the harmful impact of a trade war, the Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) officials on Thursday expressed renewed concern over the potential result of the U.S. Administration’s plan to apply a 25 percent tariff on select Chinese imports. China has stated previously that if the tariffs on nearly $50 billion in Chinese goods go into effect, it will impose a retaliatory 25 percent tariff on U.S. goods, including soybeans.

A study by The Ohio State University found the proposed tariffs could decrease a farm’s net worth by an estimated 6 percent and annual net income by 59 percent over a six-year period. According to a separate study conducted by Purdue University, total U.S. soybean production could decline by 15 percent.

“These studies illustrate the massive harm that these tariffs could impose on rural America,” said Allen Armstrong, OSA president and Clark County soybean farmer. “While there are legitimate trade issues with China, we cannot resolve them at the expense of our largest agricultural export, soybeans. This not only hurts farmers, it hurts all of Ohio.”

Ohio is the sixth largest producer of soybeans in the U.S., with 4.8 million acres planted in 2017 and more than 60 percent of the state’s entire soybean production exported to international markets. China imported $13.9 billion in U.S. soybeans in 2017, 60 percent of total U.S. soy exports.

While the looming threat of tariffs is already creating uncertainty in the marketplace, OSA and its national affiliate, the American Soybean Association, continues to ask the Administration to find ways to avoid a trade war that will leave U.S. farmers vulnerable during a time when they are already experiencing declines in farm income.

“We want to see this resolved so we can continue to compete in the global marketplace,” said Armstrong.

Trade negotiations begin with Chinese and U.S. representatives this week.

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