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Trump Reassures Farmers as Another Round of Chinese Tariffs Threatens U.S. Production

President Donald Trump on Wednesday attempted to reassure American farmers as heightened trade tensions with China threated the U.S. agriculture sector.

In a pair of tweets on Wednesday, Trump, who is currently in Brussels for a NATO summit, blamed “Other countries’ trade barriers and tariffs” for threatening U.S. farmers, as economists expect American soybean producers to be among the hardest hit by retaliatory tariffs by China on U.S. markets.

The president is trying to get ahead of criticism over an escalating trade war with China, which is a major market for U.S. soybeans.

The tweets come as the Trump administration on Tuesday issued a list of $200 billion worth of Chinese goods it plans to target in another round of 10 percent tariffs.

“Rather than address our legitimate concerns, China has begun to retaliate against U.S. products,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement, according to Politico. “There is no justification for such action.”

The latest round of proposed tariffs extends the tit-for-tat trade retaliation be the two countries, this time targeting items like seafood, chemicals, and some consumer products. China has said it will respond in kind to the U.S. tariffs.

The U.S. tariffs are designed to force China to address American concerns over intellectual property theft and technology transfer practices, an issue that costs U.S. markets about $50 billion annually.

But some Republican lawmakers have pushed back against the administration’s use of tariffs and other trade restrictions, fearing that consumers will feel the consequences of an escalating trade war.

“Although I have supported the administration’s targeted efforts to combat China’s technology transfer regime, tonight’s announcement appears reckless and is not a targeted approach,” Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said in a statement, according to Politico.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to China’s mercantilist trade practices, but this action falls short of a strategy that will give the administration negotiating leverage with China while maintaining the long-term health and prosperity of the American economy,” he added.

But as administration officials continue to work on using aggressive measures to solve trade problems, Trump is working to bolster his base against retaliatory restrictions by China targeting key members of his base.

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