Without providing details, President Trump said on social media over the weekend that Mexico, the largest U.S. food and ag trade partner, would "immediately begin buying large quantities of agricultural product from our great patriot farmers." Purchases were not mentioned in a joint declaration by the North American neighbors to avert temporarily Trump's threat to impose tariffs on all imports from Mexico unless it acted to restrict crossings at the southern U.S. border.
Just months after retaliatory tariffs deposed China as the leading customer for U.S. farm exports, President Trump threatened import duties of up to 25 percent on Mexico, the No. 1 food and ag trade partner of the United States. Farm groups fear the trade war will cut deeper into the shrinking global market for U.S. crops and livestock.
The trade war with China and low commodity prices will combine to slash U.S. farm exports by 4.5 percent this fiscal year, said the USDA on Thursday in a quarterly forecast. Exports of $137 billion would be the smallest since 2016, when exports bottomed out following the collapse of the commodity boom.
Vice President Mike Pence and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are scheduled to confer today in Ottawa on what could be a summertime sprint in both countries to ratify the USMCA trade agreement.
President Trump announced a $16-billion aid package on Thursday to buffer the impact of the trade war on farmers and ranchers this year. Speaking separately to reporters, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said billions of dollars of additional aid may flow in the future.
The three largest countries in North America announced an end to the 11-month battle of tariff and retaliatory tariff that pinched U.S. farm exports to Canada and Mexico, the two largest customers in the world in the for the goods. The agreement, which took effect over the weekend, improved the prospects for ratification of the new NAFTA and altered the dynamics of the Sino-U.S. trade war.
For the second time in 14 months, President Trump announced a multibillion-dollar government intervention to prop up the farm sector, a prominent casualty of the Sino-U.S. trade war. The first bailout, announced in April 2018, has sent around $8.3 billion in cash to growers so far; the new rescue will buy "agricultural products from our Great Farmers, in larger amounts than China ever did, and ship it to poor & starving countries in the form of humanitarian assistance," the president said on social media.
Farmers growing the three major U.S. crops — corn, soybeans and wheat — can expect a sizable decline in the average sales price for this year's harvest instead of the mild upturn that was forecast in late February, said the USDA. In its first projection of the fall harvest, the USDA said season-average prices for the three crops would be 8 to 10 percent lower than anticipated at its Outlook Forum.
On Wednesday, the Trump administration turned a weekend threat into a promise of sharply higher tariffs on Chinese products and Beijing declared it would take the “necessary countermeasures” — all on the day before ministerial-level talks to resolve the Sino-U.S. trade war were set to resume.
Three days ahead of the arrival of a Chinese trade delegation, President Trump said he would impose 25 percent tariffs on $525 billion of Chinese products as leverage for a resolution of the Sino-U.S. trade war that led to retaliatory duties on U.S. exports including soybeans. "The Trade Deal with China continues, but too slowly, as they attempt to renegotiate. No!" said Trump on social media.