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Cease fired called in U.S.-China trade war

Legislative Watch: Details of trade war cease fire still coming; coalition urges end to trade war; Trump threatens NAFTA pull-out; school lunch flexibility; government stays open for now; farm bill to be released next week.

President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping last weekend agreed to a cease-fire in the U.S.-China trade war while negotiations begin to resolve various issues. Details on what was actually agreed to by the two leaders have been slow to be released.

President Trump will leave the tariffs at 10% on $200 billion of Chinese products at this time. The tariffs were scheduled to increase to 25% on Jan. 1. China agreed to purchase a “substantial amount” of agriculture, energy, industrial and other products from the United States. It is still to be determined what products, amounts and when the purchases will begin.

The two countries agreed to begin 90 days of negotiations on structural changes regarding forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture. If an agreement has not been reached by the end of the 90 days, Trump will increase tariffs from 10% to 25%.

Coalition urges end to U.S.-China trade dispute
A coalition of over 150 organizations, Americans for Free Trade, representing U.S. farmers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers sent a letter to President Trump prior to the G-20 summit urging him to work with Chinese President Xi Jinping to resolve the trade dispute. They also asked for an end to the current tariffs and no additional tariffs be imposed this year.

Those signing the letter include the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, American Chemistry Council, CropLife America, Grocery Manufacturers Association, National Foreign Trade Council, National Retail Federation, The Hardwood Federation, and U.S. Hide, Skin and Leather Association.

Trump threatens to pull-out of NAFTA
President Trump says he will soon give notice to Congress that he intends to formally notify Canada and Mexico of his intention to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. This is to increase the pressure on Congress to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

If Congress fails to pass the USMCA and the United States has pulled out of NAFTA, then tariffs will revert to pre-NAFTA levels. This is a major concern because there would be a significant increase in tariffs for U.S. agricultural products. Studies have said U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico would drop nearly $10 billion annually if the United States left NAFTA.

USDA to provide flexibility for school meals
USDA announced it will be finalizing a rule later this month that will give local schools greater flexibility in implementing school meal standards for milk, whole grains and sodium.

The “Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements” final rule covers the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and other federal child nutrition programs. The rule:

  • Provides the option to offer flavored, low-fat milk to children participating in school meal programs, and to participants ages six and older in the Special Milk Program for Children and the Child and Adult Care Food Program;
  • Requires half of the weekly grains in the school lunch and breakfast menu be whole grain-rich; and
  • Provides more time to reduce sodium levels in school meals.

Government shutdown avoided for now
Congressional leaders and the White House have agreed to a two-week continuing resolution which will keep the federal government operating until Dec. 21.

Farm bill expected to be released next week for Congressional consideration
There are indications the Farm Bill Conference Committee will release the negotiated farm bill next week to give time for Congress to immediately begin consideration of the bill.

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