WASHINGTON – United States President Donald Trump urged China on Friday to remove tariffs imposed on American agricultural products immediately, amid advances in bilateral trade negotiations.
“I have asked China to immediately remove all Tariffs on our agricultural products (including beef, pork, etc.) based on the fact that we are moving along nicely with Trade discussions,” Trump had tweeted.
Trump also referred to his recent decision to postpone an increase of 10 to 25 percent of tariffs on Chinese imports, valued at $200 billion, which were to enter into effect Friday midnight.
“This is very important for our great farmers – and me!” said Trump.
His demand corresponds to concerns over adverse effects of the US-China trade war on American rural communities, who form a major part of the president’s support base.
Last week, South Dakota governor and Republican Kristi Noem had warned that the trade war has deeply harmed her state.
Last weekend, Trump had decided to postpone the tariff hike, following the end of a new round of trade talks between his team and a Chinese delegation.
He highlighted the substantial progress made during the talks in various areas such as technology transfer, intellectual property, agriculture and currencies.
Trump was also optimistic about the ratification of an agreement that could take place in March during a summit with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s residence in Florida.
Xi and Trump agreed in December on a tariff truce of 90 days, a period during which China undertook several goodwill measures, such as the lowering of tariffs on American vehicles and the resumption of the purchase of soybeans from the US, in order to end the trade war.
However, Washington continues to be skeptical of China’s commitment to an agreement, alleging that in the intervening months Beijing has not shown much interest in compromising on major issues.
US has a significant trade deficit with Beijing, something that Trump had consistently blamed on unfair practices by China, which had led to the tariff stand-off between the two countries.
In 2017, US exported $130 billion worth of products to China, while Beijing exported $506 billion worth of products to the American market.