Analysis & Comment

Opinion | China, Trade and Soybeans

To the Editor:

“Will Mr. Trump Trade Away the Future?” (editorial, March 10) sets up soybeans as a scapegoat if the administration removes its tariffs under an initial deal that doesn’t resolve structural concerns with Chinese trade and business practices. To suggest that farmers are pushing the administration to accept a lesser deal is unfair.

The American Soybean Association has been vocal that the retaliatory tariff imposed by China on imports of United States soybeans must be removed in any agreement. But we have also supported addressing long-term structural issues with China. We are skeptical of one-off commitments by China to buy American soybeans and have advocated for tariff and nontariff barriers to be removed so that we can compete on a level playing field.

Long before China’s trade practices became an issue for the national media and a political football in Washington, American soybean farmers were working to establish a relationship with China’s livestock industry and government that has fostered greater interdependence between our two countries.

Any agreement that dials back the current tariffs should not be criticized as a political concession to our industry. It should be recognized as a necessary step toward finding better balance in a difficult but essential trade relationship.

Davie Stephens
Clinton, Ky.
The writer is president of the American Soybean Association.

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