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December 12, 2019

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US farmers long for trade with China

US businesses and farmers recently expressed hope that the United States and China would soon reach a phase-one trade deal, urging the two sides to restore bilateral trading relations and remove existing additional tariffs.

American consumers and businesses “do not support the use of tariffs as a trade negotiating tool when diplomats should get to work and resolve issues over the negotiating table,” said President of the US-China Business Council Craig Allen, whose organization represents more than 200 US companies that do business with China.

He expressed hope that a potential phase-one trade deal would “remove as many tariffs as possible.”

American consumers and businesses paid an additional US$42 billion from February 2018 through October 2019 as a result of Washington-initiated trade disputes, US anti-tariff campaign group Tariffs Hurt the Heartland said Monday, citing data from the US Commerce Department.

“This trade war has lasted long enough and (has) done enough damage. It’s time the administration (finalized) a deal with China,” said Jonathan Gold, spokesperson for business coalition Americans for Free Trade.

Brian Kuehl, co-executive director of Farmers for Free Trade, said data shows that farmers in America’s heartland are “paying a steep price” because of the trade war, urging the US administration to reach a comprehensive deal with China that rolls back tariffs and ends the trade disputes.

Rising bankruptcy rate

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall emphasized the urgency for trade talks progress, saying in a statement that “a trade agreement with a market as important as China’s must be a priority.”

“Further delay in reaching an agreement would make it hard for struggling farmers to hold on in the face of rising bankruptcy rates,” Duvall said. “The more time that passes, the more difficult it will be to win back this important export market, regardless of any trade agreement.”

Noting China’s progress on market opening and reform, Allen said that “accelerated opening and reform will lead to more growth, which I think the Chinese people, as well as (our) American friends, would all enjoy.”

Despite the trade tensions, Allen said the US business community is “very interested” in expanding business relations with China and is looking forward to “a stronger and healthier” relationship with the country.


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