Administration Halts Tariffs While Talks Progress with China

The United States has put a hold on $150 billion in threatened tariffs on Chinese goods while the two countries continue to negotiate a deal to reduce America’s trade deficit that could include China agreeing to increase U.S. agricultural imports.

Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin outlined the progress in an interview with Fox News Sunday.

“We made very meaningful progress,” said Mnuchin. “We are going to immediately follow this up with (Commerce) Secretary (Wilbur) Ross going there with very hard commitments in agriculture, where we expect to see a very large increase (in Chinese imports of U.S. products) — 35 to 40 percent increases in agriculture alone.”

Last month, the Chinese government officially listed 128 U.S.-made products — including U.S. pork, beef and soybeans — that would be subject to a 25 percent tariff in response to the Trump administration’s proposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Meatingplace.com reports China has been a volatile but critical customer for U.S. pork. Mizuho Restaurant and Proteins analyst Jeremy Scott noted in a report that China is the largest global market for pork byproducts like pig’s feet and innards. Scott estimated China represented some 20 percent of U.S. pork offal exports, including nearly 40 percent of U.S. pig’s feet exports.

Rabobank analysts estimated a retaliatory tariff on U.S. pork could cost U.S. pork producers between $6 and $8 per head.