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  February 27th, 2018 | Written by

Proposed Steel Tariffs Raise Potential for Retaliation Against US Soybeans

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  • Recommendations for tariffs on imported steel and aluminum are very concerning for soybean farmers.
  • Brazil and Argentina will be happy to supply the Chinese market with soybeans if the US is cut out.
  • China is the largest customer for US soybean exports.

Following reports from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that the department will recommend tariffs on imported steel and aluminum as a result of its ongoing investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, soybean farmers have voiced their concern about the potential for retaliation against US soybean imports by the Chinese. The American Soybean Association (ASA) has repeatedly noted the potential for retaliation by China, which purchases approximately one-third of the soybeans grown in the United States at a value of more than $14 billion.

The “news from the Commerce Department is very concerning for soybean farmers,” said ASA President and Iowa farmer John Heisdorffer. “China is not only our largest customer, it purchases more than all our other customers combined. Add to that the sobering fact that our capable competitors in Brazil and Argentina are all too happy to pick up whatever slack we leave in supplying the Chinese market, and these potential tariffs have the potential to make life very hard for soybean farmers.”

In earlier conversations about potential Section 232 tariffs, the Chinese specifically identified US soybeans as a target for retaliation. “The barriers that retaliation would create will add significant further injury to an already-hobbled farm economy,” said Heisdorffer. “Prices are down 40 percent and farm income is down 50 percent, and we simply can’t afford for those numbers to get worse. Soybean farmers look to the White House to move forward with a China strategy that strengthens the competitiveness of our domestic industries while at the same time growing our export opportunities.”

ASA has been in constant contact with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), US Trade Representative (USTR), US Department of the Treasury and US Department of Commerce about the negative implications of this action and has sent several letters to the administration.