KONFRONTASI - The possibility of a trade war between the US and China has put American farmers in a “precarious position,” with fears growing that the impacts on lucrative agricultural exports including soybeans will be devastating.
On Friday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, "there is the potential of a trade war" as President Donald Trump shows no sign of backing down from a worsening trade confrontation with Beijing.
On the same day, Zippy Duvall, a Georgia farmer and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation said in a statement that "growing trade disputes have placed farmers and ranchers in a precarious position."
"We have bills to pay and debts we must settle, and cannot afford to lose any market, much less one as important as China's," Duvall added.
Trump triggered the trade dispute last month by imposing heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. He signed paperwork enacting tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum during a ceremony at the White House.
The Trump administration later proposed duties on more than 1,300 imported products in China's machinery, electronics, aerospace and robotics sectors.
He then suggested an additional $100 billion in tariffs, prompting China to threaten more tariffs on US goods.
China vowed to fight back at any cost and that if it follows through on its plan to impose a 25 percent tariff on soybeans, it would direct Chinese buyers toward other global suppliers like Brazil.
The largest part of the US agribusiness trade with China involves soybeans, which are grown in many farm states including Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio and the Dakotas.
Last year, the US sold roughly 33 million tons of soybeans to China, while Brazil shipped over 50 million tons to the Asian country.
China buys approximately half of US soybean exports annually and nearly one in three rows of soybeans grown on the nation's farms is imported to the world's second-largest economy, according to the American Soybean Association.[ptv]