US-China Tensions Flare as Trade Talks Near End, NCBA's Kent Bacus on Trump's Hardball StrategyTue, 14 May 2019 10:36:46 CDT
Tensions between the US and China have ramped up in recent days as President Trump ordered an increase on tariffs against the Asian nation for dragging its feet in negotiations on trade. The Administration had hoped to have reached a trade agreement with China by March 1. However, China in its usual way, backtracked on talks in one of the most recent meetings between the representatives of each country. The Trump Administration responded, raising the existing 10 percent tariff to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. Trump has said that China has three to four weeks to conclude talks or threatens to increase those tariff duties to $325 billion worth of Chinese goods. According to Kent Bacus, senior director of international trade and market access for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, this flare up was not totally unexpected given China’s tactical history. Bacus shared his insights into these negotiations with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays during Washington Watch, an event hosted by the National Association of Farm Broadcasters in DC this week.
“We’re taking a very realistic approach when it comes to China. You’re talking about two of the biggest markets in the world. Nothing is just going to move easily,” Bacus remarked. “There are systematic changes we need China to make. At the same time, China’s got a good thing going here in the US and they aren’t willing to give that up. So, President Trump and his team are really having to play hardball to get China to make those changes.”
Unfortunately, though, the process has caused great financial strain on the US ag industry - an easy target Bacus says whenever tariffs are unholstered - which often faces backlash from retaliatory tariffs in kind. Bacus admits the cattle industry has not felt the pressure as badly as other commodities but says the struggle is real. However, Bacus says the industry also realizes that ultimately, in the end if China concedes to the demands of the Administration, it will be of greater benefit to the entire US economy. He also explains that even if the US were not in a trade dispute with China, there are still non-tariff barriers that would and are limiting the US beef industry’s access to their marketplace. Bacus says that eventually if these nonscience-based restrictions are ever relaxed, the Chinese market is valued conservatively at $4 billion annually. Last year, the US beef industry exported $8.3 billion globally. Bacus says the industry understands breaking into China will be no easy task - but knows too that the Trump Administration is committed to making it happen.
“What we have asked the Administration though this process is an extremely heavy lift, but we have an Administration that’s committed to making these changes. We have a Congress that supports taking a hard position with China,” Bacus said. “Ultimately, that’s what it’s going to take. So, we’ll continue to support the President playing hardball and hope this bumpy ride we’re all on can get resolved pretty soon.”
Listen to Bacus share more of his insights into the US-China trade negotiations as well as the process to advance the USMCA agreement in Congress with Hays, on today’s Beef Buzz.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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