Trump Gives Farmers $16 Billion in Aid Amid Prolonged China Trade War – The New York Times

The financial support comes after the administration handed out $12 billion in emergency relief for farmers last year, also funded through the Commodity Credit Corporation.

“China hasn’t played by the rules for a long time and President Trump is standing up to them, sending the clear message that the United States will no longer tolerate their unfair trade practices, which include non-tariff trade barriers and the theft of intellectual property,” Sonny Perdue, the agriculture secretary, said in a statement.

While Mr. Trump has insisted any pain will be short-lived and worth the price, administration officials have grown concerned that the president could lose the support of farmers, an important political constituency, ahead of the 2020 election. Those worries helped spur Mr. Trump last week to suddenly drop steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico, which agreed in turn to withdraw stiff levies on American farm goods.

After two years of steadily escalating its trade fights on front after front, the Trump administration appears to be recognizing that the window for cutting deals with allies before the 2020 election is closing. According to administration officials and lawmakers, the president and his top advisers are increasingly feeling that, on the trade front, too many issues remained unresolved and, that trade wars — like military wars — are best waged one front at a time.

That thinking pushed the president and his advisers to decide to delay for six months a decision about imposing tariffs on automobiles around the world, and to reverse their position last week on the tariffs they had levied on Canadian and Mexican metal. It was one of the few times the president has chosen to lift a tariff, instead of imposing new ones.

Robert Lighthizer, the president’s top trade adviser, had for months been trying to persuade Canada and Mexico to agree to permanent caps on the amount of metal they send to the United States. But when progress toward a sweeping trade deal with China unexpectedly stalled earlier this month, Mr. Lighthizer decided it was time to try to bring to a close the battle he had been waging in North America, the better to focus on the long war with China, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

He reached out to Canadian and Mexican officials, offering a deal in which the United States would lift its tariffs if the countries would agree to prevent future surges of metal into the United States market, these people said. If those surges happened, the United States could reimpose tariffs of 10 percent on aluminum and 25 percent on steel on the specific products affected. And Canada and Mexico would agree that, if they retaliated, it would only be on American metal and not on American farmers.

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