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Perdue: Trump Tariffs Not as Bad as Feared
USAgNet - 03/13/2018

Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue says that while he's as anxious as farmers are about President Donald Trump's new tariffs, the move doesn't look as bad as he originally thought. According to the Associated Press, Perdue said during a trip to meet with representatives of North Dakota's agricultural sector that Trump's decision to enact a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent levy on aluminum looks better in the final version than it did when first announced. He joked with farmers in Iowa earlier this week that one option for farmers who fear a trade war may be to pray.

"I was very concerned last week with the surprise announcement on the steel and aluminum tariffs, as most people in the White House were," Perdue said during a press conference at North Dakota State University. "But we hope to turn it into a positive. This president has the unique ability to turn some things that we think are initially negative into positives."

Perdue says the final version looked much better because Canada and Mexico were excluded, which he believes could spark discussions on improving the North American Free Trade Agreement. He said he will be on edge until NAFTA is recertified and reauthorized and the U.S. addresses trade issues with its key importers, the AP reports.

Agriculture producers receive 20 cents out of every dollar from exports. Perdue heard from about 20 farm representatives Friday, most of whom didn't pass the microphone until saying something about trade. Mark Martinson, a durum wheat farmer in northeastern North Dakota, said the U.S cannot risk losing "China, Indonesia, all those markets."

In addition to Trump backing off on Canada and Mexico, Perdue was relieved the president indicated he was willing to work with Europe and other U.S. allies on improving trade. Canada and Mexico are two of the largest suppliers of agricultural products to the United States, according to Commerce Department figures. In 2016, the U.S. imported $22 billion in ag products from Canada and exported $23 billion; the U.S imported $23 billion from Mexico and exported $18 billion.

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