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Free Trade

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden says if elected, he would not tear down the parts of the barrier along the U.S. Southern border built during the Trump administration — but he would cease construction.

"There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration, No. 1," he told NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro during an interview with journalists from the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

China is slicing tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. products, Chinese government news agencies report. The move is in reciprocation for the Trump administration's plan, announced last month, to halve tariffs on about $112 billion in Chinese goods.

The tariff cuts, both slated to take effect on Feb. 14, are the latest sign that the trade war between the world's largest economies is easing.

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio is blasting the White House's trade deal with China, calling it "much ado about nothing."

Updated at 2:07 p.m. ET

A year and a half after launching his trade war against China, President Trump signed a partial truce on Wednesday.

"We mark more than just an agreement. We mark a sea change in international trade," Trump said during a White House signing ceremony. "At long last, Americans have a government that puts them first."

In 2019, the federal government delivered an extraordinary financial aid package to America's farmers. Farm subsidies jumped to their highest level in 14 years, most of them paid out without any action by Congress.

The money flowed to farmers like Robert Henry. When I visited in early July, many of his fields near New Madrid, Mo., had been flooded for months, preventing him from working in them. The soybeans that he did manage to grow had fallen in value; China wasn't buying them, in retaliation for the Trump administration's tariffs.

House Democrats and organized labor have thrown their support behind an updated trade agreement among the U.S., Mexico and Canada. The announcement came on the same day Democrats unveiled articles of impeachment against President Trump.

"This is a day we've all been working to," declared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "There is no question, of course, that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA. But in terms of our work here, it is infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration."

Updated at 9:58 a.m. ET

The tariff war has caused a lot of anxiety for business owners and farmers. But how much has it hurt the overall economy?

The stock market got off to a rocky start this week when President Trump launched a new round of tariff threats. But administration loyalists insist concern about the trade war is overblown.

Updated at 10:27 a.m. ET

The Misco speaker company in St. Paul, Minn., is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. But the company's future is uncertain — a result of the trade war between the U.S. and China.

Dan Digre's dad started Misco after serving in World War II.

"He was a B-17 radio operator and came back to the United States and married a woman with a bad radio," Digre says. "Turned out the radio wasn't bad but the speaker was bad, so he started his own speaker repair business."

Updated at 5:06 PM ET

President Trump on Friday announced what he calls "Phase 1" of a larger trade deal with China.

As part of the deal, a tariff increase planned for next Tuesday will not be imposed. The U.S. was scheduled to raise tariffs on about $250 billion worth of goods on Oct. 15 from 25% to 30%.

The specifics of the deal are still being hammered out, and they haven't been signed yet. President Trump said he hopes that will happen in the next month or so. The leaders of the U.S. and China are expected to meet in November.

Most farmers haven't had a good year since President Trump took office and his policies on trade, immigration and ethanol are part of the problem. Yet farmers, who broadly supported Trump in 2016 are largely sticking with him as the impeachment inquiry moves forward. And if they did abandon him, it may not matter.

Farmer Luke Ulrich says he works at least 12 hours a day, almost every day, tending his crops and cattle near Baldwin City, Kan.

In the industrial city of Dongguan, China, the effects of the trade war on the Chinese economy are measured in idled machinery and empty bar stools.

"One year ago, you probably couldn't even get through the crowd because it would be so busy. But right now, even the smallest vendors can't survive," says Song Guanghui, the owner of Crowdbar, a tricked-out food stall in an open-air market in Dongguan.

When President Trump announced a new round of tariffs on Chinese imports last week, he made clear he was ready to sever ties between the United States and China, if necessary, to win the trade war.

"We don't need China," the president tweeted, "and, frankly, would be far better off without them."

Updated at 5:18 p.m. ET

President Trump on Friday announced higher tariffs on goods from China, hours after Beijing said it will slap tariffs on $75 billion of autos and other U.S. goods. Earlier in the day, he "ordered" U.S. companies to stop doing business with China though it was unclear whether he had the power to do that.

Updated at 4:10 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is postponing some of its new tariffs on Chinese imports — a significant retreat in the trade war that has rattled financial markets on both sides of the Pacific.

Updated at 5:06 p.m. ET

President Trump announced Thursday that the United States will impose a new 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of products imported from China, saying Beijing had broken some of the promises it made in trade negotiations.

The new tariffs, which are set to take effect Sept. 1, represent another ratcheting up in trade tensions between the countries and sent stocks falling sharply.

Updated at 10:59 a.m. ET

U.S. economic growth fell to a 2.1% annual rate in the second quarter — down from a 3.1% pace in the first three months of 2019, the Commerce Department said. But growth came in slightly stronger than many analysts had expected.

If you're caught in a trade war, it's good to be a farmer.

Lots of American companies have lost sales since the Trump administration and China embarked on the current cycle of tariff-raising and retaliation. Few, if any, have been compensated as handsomely as farmers.

The U.S. and China have agreed to restart trade talks, and the Trump administration will hold off for now adding new and costly tariffs on some $300 billion in Chinese imports.

President Trump announced the trade truce after an 80-minute meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

"Basically we agreed today that we're going to continue the negotiation," Trump told reporters Saturday. "We're going to work with China on where we left off to see if we can make a deal."

Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET

The Trump administration will provide $16 billion in aid to help keep farmers afloat as they reel from the yearlong trade war between the U.S. and China, the latest sign that the world's two largest economies are still far from striking a long-term trade agreement.

The bulk of the support, or about $14.5 billion, is direct aid to farmers, which producers will start to see some time this summer, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters in a briefing on Thursday.

Associated Press

Republican U.S. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio says he's concerned about rising trade tensions with China. 

The Trump administration is preparing a new list of $300 billion worth of Chinese imports that would be hit with tariffs of up to 25%, after China retaliated Monday in the trade war between the world's two largest economies.

President Trump escalated the trade fight with China this week, saying he will steeply increase tariffs on Chinese products this Friday.

But while the White House projects a unified front in favor of wielding tariffs as a weapon against China, it wasn't always this way.

Early in Trump's presidency, close advisers fought bitterly over whether tariffs would help — or devastate — the U.S. economy, those advisers told NPR and the PBS show Frontline.

The U.S. trade deficit soared to a 10-year high in 2018 on the heels of a strong economy, despite President Trump's ongoing efforts to bring it down through tariffs on imported goods.

For 2018 as a whole, the deficit grew to $621 billion — the highest since 2008, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. When the service sector is excluded, the gap was even greater, rising to a record $891.3 billion.

President Trump will hold off raising tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese imports, after what he called "very productive" trade talks in Washington this weekend.

Tariffs had been scheduled to jump from 10 to 25 percent next Saturday. But Trump agreed to postpone that increase in hopes of negotiating a more comprehensive trade agreement.

When U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was growing up in Ashtabula, Ohio, in the 1950s, it was a thriving factory town with a busy port where freighters brought iron ore to be used in the steel mills of Pennsylvania.

Today, many of the biggest factories have long since left the region for low-wage places — taking a lot of jobs with them — and the port ships a fraction of the freight it once did.

Updated at 8:25 a.m. ET

President Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed the new U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement — or USMCA — in Buenos Aires Friday, using the backdrop of the G-20 Summit to resolve a trade dispute between America and its closest neighbors.

"Let's go," all three leaders said as they sat alongside each other to sign multiple copies of the deal.

Updated at 11:01 a.m. ET

Hours after President Trump announced tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, China responded with its own levies on $60 billion worth of U.S. products.

Chinese state television on Tuesday reported that the government has decided to impose tariffs of 5 percent to 10 percent on $60 billion worth of U.S. products, starting on Monday. The tariffs will apply to 5,207 items.

Updated at 6:43 p.m. ET

President Trump announced Monday that he is ordering 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China.

Trump also threatened to add tariffs on about $267 billion of additional imports if China retaliates against U.S. farmers or other industries.

It's the latest round of an escalating trade dispute between the two countries.

Chris Johnson knows all too well how a promising crop can suddenly be ruined — by poor weather, an economic downturn or bad luck.

This year, he and other soybean farmers in North Dakota are contending with something less common but potentially just as destructive: a trade war between the United States and China that has already driven down the price of soybeans sharply.

"Oh, it's a devastating loss. Soybeans are my largest acreage crop," says Johnson, who farms 3,300 acres in Great Bend, in the southern part of the state.

The Department of Agriculture will pay $4.7 billion to farmers growing soybeans, cotton and other products hit by tariffs in the Trump administration's hard-line trade war with China, announcing the first batch of payments from a $12 billion government aid package.

Starting next Tuesday, the agency will take applications from farmers who produce corn, cotton, dairy, hogs, sorghum, soybeans and wheat — products that were targeted in China's retaliatory tariffs, after the U.S. imposed a 25 percent levy on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports.

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