President Trump's Trade War has Officially Begun
I want to thank John Cruickshank, the Canadian Consul General, for accepting my invitation to come to the Fifth District of Missouri on Monday and talk with constituents about our current trade situation and the recent tariffs. Farmers, businesses, and manufacturers are concerned about the effects of the tariffs on American exports, and that was exemplified by the many questions asked of myself and the Consul General.
They are right to be concerned about the outcome of what I believe we can call a trade war. This is their livelihood, their way of survival. One of the many questions I heard asked of Mr. Cruickshank during a public meeting on trade this past week in Higginsville, Missouri was, “Is this a done deal? Will the U.S. negotiate?”
President Trump has made his position clear. He imposed tariffs on goods from China, as well as our allies Canada, Mexico and the EU and they responded with their own tariffs on American products. There were no negotiations and there was no consulting or consideration to the people who would be affected the most, farmers and manufacturers who rely on exports for the continued success of their businesses.
We are already watching the results of President Trump’s “anti-trade” policies unfold, and the repercussions will reverberate in coming weeks and months as the markets respond, manufacturing plants close, and people lose their jobs. Commodity prices are falling and yet, people continue to say, “wait it out”. With soybean prices falling to $7.79 a bushel this week – the lowest in almost a decade - I’m not so sure our farmers in Missouri can wait. President Trump’s trade war has officially begun. The President followed through today with tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese products, and immediately China has hit back with $34 billion in retaliatory tariffs on 545 U.S. products, including beef, soybeans and pork.
These new Chinese tariffs are a punch in the gut to Missouri’s economy. Agriculture provides about $88 billion in benefits each year to the state, and nearly one out of every three rows of soybeans in Missouri are sent to China. Missouri’s top agricultural commodity is now facing a 40 percent drop in prices over the last five years.
It is not a pretty picture as families sit around the table looking at their economic prospects. Farm income is down 50 percent compared to five years ago. Early this year Harley Davidson closed operations at its Kansas City plant – placing 800 people out of work – and recently the company announced it will move much of its American operations overseas due to the retaliatory tariffs from the EU.
Missouri--and the rest of the country for that matter--is already seeing the self-inflicted consequences of President Trump’s trade war. I only hope that rational minds within the administration will prevail before there are any more unnecessary casualties.
Emanuel Cleaver, II
Member of Congress