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China Announces New Tariffs on US Soybeans, Will Harm Largely States That Voted for Donald Trump

Donald Trump Xi Jinping pork industry tariffs National Pork Producers Council

United States President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (Photos by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images and Greg Bowker - Pool/Getty Images)

In response to President Donald Trump’s announced tariffs on imported aluminum and steel, China has announced $50 billion in retaliatory tariffs, most notably on soybean exports from the United States. It’s a move aimed directly at the heart of Trump country, and the effects could easily spiral into economic disaster.

The tariffs on American soybeans are part of China’s $50 billion trade penalties in response to the tariffs enacted by Trump last month. Soybeans are the largest American export to China, receiving 61.4 percent of U.S. soybean exports exceeding $14 billion annually.

But the latest move by China is more than just an economic tit-for-tat with the administration. Tariffs on soybeans directly target the heart of Trump country. Eight of the ten biggest soybean producing states voted for Trump in the 2016 election.

Andy Kiersz/Business Insider

Top Republicans have warned Trump that agriculture would be the first major target of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports.

“Every time you do this, you get a retaliation, and agriculture is the No. 1 target,” Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) said last month. “I think this is terribly counterproductive for the [agriculture] economy.” Roberts is the chairman of the Senate Agricultural Committee. His state, Kansas, is the tenth largest producer of soybeans in the country.

USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue vowed to keep farmers out of the crosshairs of a trade war, though how exactly this would be accomplished remains unclear. And while the tariffs are not expected to have a huge impact on the entire economy, the threat of an escalating trade war has Wall Street and Main Street concerned.

“I talked to the President as recently as last night,” Perdue said. “And he said, ‘Sonny, you can assure your farmers out there that we’re not going to allow them to be the casualties if this trade dispute escalates. We’re going to take care of our American farmers. You can tell them that directly.”

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