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New tariffs raise economic anxieties

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Friday that trade talks between China and the United States were continuing in a "very congenial manner" despite new tariffs the U.S. imposed Friday on $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing's vow to retaliate.

In a series of blustering morning tweets, Trump also claimed the new tariffs will help rather than hurt the U.S. He offered a proposal he said would ease any negative impact on U.S. farmers from lost sales to China.

The U.S. stock market, which until this week had been expecting the two sides to reach an accord on trade, has been dropping for several days. Investors worry about the impact of a full-blown trade war because it would raise costs for companies importing Chinese goods, could make doing business in China more difficult and would generally threaten to slow the global economy.

The U.S. Trade Representative moved on Friday increased the tariff rate from 10 percent to 25 percent on Chinese goods.

Farmers across the country expressed concern, including the National Association of Wheat Growers, the American Soybean Association and the National Corn Growers Association. The three commodities represent around 171 million of acres of farmland in the country.

“U.S. wheat growers are facing tough times right now, and these additional tariffs will continue to put a strain on our export markets and threaten many decades worth of market development,” said NAWG president and Texas wheat farmer Ben Scholz. 

The S&P 500 index is on track for its worst week of 2019, though it's still showing a double-digit gain for the year.

In response, Sen. John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, outlined efforts to secure additional assistance for agriculture producers impacted by trade negotiations.

“With the Chinese continuing to delay negotiations, farm country needs assistance which is the case I’ve been making to the administration, both at USDA and the White House. I am encouraged that the president has said we should make more assistance available to our farmers during trade negotiations. I continue to advocate for another round of Market Facilitation Program payments, and other agriculture assistance,” Hoeven said.

“Our agriculture producers have been targeted by the Chinese, which is why it makes sense to put the tariff money that comes in toward providing aid, including another round of MFP and other trade assistance, for producers. That will send a clear message to China that the U.S. will do what it takes to prevail and get a better trade deal.”

Actually, the burden of tariffs falls on U.S. consumers and businesses that buy imports. By the end of last year, those consumers and companies were paying $3 billion a month in higher taxes and absorbing $1.4 billion a month in lost efficiency, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Columbia and Princeton universities.

“North Dakota's delegation in Washington keeps telling the state's farmers that they need to be patient. Farmers do not have that luxury. Crops go bad, and livestock doesn’t live forever,” said Alison Jones, communications director for the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party, in opposition to the elongated negotiations.

Geng Shuang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Beijing is hoping the Trump administration will meet China "halfway" in the dispute over trade.  China said it would take unspecified countermeasures.

-- Bismarck Tribune staff contributed to this article.


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