US hog farmers squeal over US:China trade dispute

06.04.2018

Hog farmers in the US have found themselves in the centre of a trade war with China, after the country unveiled 25 per cent tariffs on pork in response to US tariffs on steel.

US President Donald Trump announced tariffs on $60 billion (£42.5bn) worth of Chinese goods, with Beijing responding with retaliatory tariffs on goods including pork, fruit and wine.
 
US pig farmers were dependent on export markets, exporting more than 26 per cent of production last year. About $1bn of this went to China, according to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

The US group Farmers for Free Trade called it a tax on American farmers ‘brought about by protectionist trade policies’.

Co-chair Max Baucus said American farmers were the first victims of an ‘escalating trade war’.

He said: “With farm incomes already declining, farmers rely on export markets to stay above water. These new tariffs are a drag on their ability to make ends meet.”

He was concerned this could be the calm before the storm and called for the Government to ‘de-escalate both the trade rhetoric and actions’.

A Trade Partnership Worldwide study suggested the steel and aluminium tariffs would provide 26,000 US jobs. But 31,500 jobs would be lost in food and agriculture as a result of retaliation, with 495,000 total job losses across the US.

NPPC said it was disappointed by the tariff. “Exports are extremely critical to the financial well-being of our producers,” a spokesman said.

“Over the past 10 years, the United States, on average, has been the top exporter of pork in the world, and we’re the lowest-cost producer.

“In any given year, we export pork to more than 100 nations, and those exports support 110,000 American jobs.”

Officials from the US and China were in dialogue over an agreement and NPPC said it was hopeful the tariffs would be short-lived.


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