US President Donald Trump softened his rhetoric about trade tension between China and the US on Wednesday, saying that the United States is not in a trade war with China. The statement came in a tweet hours after Beijing announced a tariff plan on a list of US imports, including soybeans, planes, cars, beef and chemicals, in retaliation for similar duties levied by the White House one day earlier.
“We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S.,” Trump tweeted.
China’s retaliatory list on Wednesday showed clearly that China does not fear a trade war, though it does not want one, as China has repeatedly stated during the past weeks.
The inclusion of agricultural products, especially soybeans in the tariff list, has caused fear of losses among US farmers since China is the largest buyer of US farm products.
America’s most influential farm organization pleaded publicly with the Trump administration and China on Wednesday to put an end to an escalating trade dispute after China targeted US soybeans and other agricultural products.
“Growing trade disputes have placed farmers and ranchers in a precarious position. We have bills to pay and debts we must settle, and cannot afford to lose any market, much less one as important as China’s. We urge the United States and China to return to negotiations and produce an agreement that serves the interests of the world’s two largest economies,” said Zippy Duvall, a Georgia poultry and cattle farmer and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, in a statement released Wednesday.
Following Trump’s tweets Wednesday morning, White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow also sought to downplay trade war fears.
When asked whether the US tariffs announced on Tuesday will ever go into effect and may be a negotiating tactic, Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, told reporters: “Yes, it’s possible. It’s part of the process.” He called the announcements by the two countries mere opening proposals.
“I don’t think people should overreact right now,” Kudlow said. “This is a negotiation using all the tools.”
(With input from Reuters)