President Donald Trump on Monday attempted to reassure American farmers staring down market uncertainty amid an escalating trade dispute with China, which has threatened to level hefty tariffs on soybeans and other agricultural goods.
“We’ll make it up to them,” Trump told reporters ahead of a meeting with his Cabinet. “The farmers will be better off than they ever were. It will take a little while to get there, but it could be very quick, actually.
Trump said the midwestern growers are “great patriots” who “understand that they’re doing this for the country.” The president also reminded members of the media that he has instructed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to work with Cabinet officials to shield farmers from China’s trade actions.
“If we do a deal with China, if during the course of the negotiation they want to hit the farmers because they think that hits me, I wouldn’t say that’s nice,” the president said, adding that the U.S. will likely reach a truce with the Asian superpower.
“Probably we will,” Trump said. “I think deals will be made.”
The White House last Tuesday announced plans to hike tariffs by 25 percent on Chinese manufacturing imports and other products worth around $50 billion, citing decades of allegedly unfair trade practices.
The retaliatory tariffs China’s Commerce Ministry announced a day later include duties on the $14 billion worth of soybeans China imports from the U.S. each year. China remains the second-largest market for American agricultural exports.
Trump intensified the conflict further on Thursday when he asked the U.S. trade representative to consider additional tariffs on $100 billion in Chinese goods.