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Chinese Tariffs Tough for Midwest Ag States

Soybeans not on the list

Farm country knew trade retaliation was inevitable, but that doesn’t make a round of Chinese tariffs sting any less according to a report at the Omaha World-Herald.

In response to the Trump administration's new U.S. taxes on Chinese steel and aluminum, China counterpunched Monday with tariffs on $3 billion in U.S. products, from aluminum and apples to walnuts.

Pork was among U.S. exports targeted, bringing fresh pain to producers across the country, including those in Nebraska and Iowa.

Expectations of Chinese action had already driven pork prices down.

“The market just doesn’t like uncertainty,” said Mark McHargue, a pork producer from Central City. “These kinds of things are very disruptive.”

On Wall Street, the stock market buckled on the prospect of an all-out trade war between the world's two biggest economies. But it hasn't come to that — not yet, anyway.

"We're in a trade slap-fight right now," not a trade war, said Derek Scissors, resident scholar and China specialist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

China is a relatively insignificant supplier of steel and aluminum to the United States. And the $3 billion in U.S. products that Beijing targeted Monday amount to barely 2% of American goods exported to China.

But the dispute could escalate, and quickly.

Already, in a separate move, the United States is drawing up a list of about $50 billion in Chinese imports to tax in an effort to punish Beijing for stealing American technology or forcing U.S. companies to hand over trade secrets.

McHargue has personally participated in trade missions promoting Nebraska pork. He said it’s difficult to see America adopting a protectionist stance that runs counter to long-running efforts to open overseas markets.

He understands the United States must do something about Chinese misbehavior such as stealing trade secrets, but then agriculture producers get hurt in the backlash.


One area missing from China’s tariff action was soybeans, which it buys in massive quantities. There is fear that President Donald Trump could move to impose additional tariffs on Chinese imports.

“If he does that, then I think that soybeans might be the next shoe to drop,” Rempe said. “That could be very painful.”

Read the full report here.

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