Trump Says He Convinced China to Allow U.S. Beef Imports for First Time in Over a Decade

By Melanie Arter | April 13, 2018 | 11:08 AM EDT


( - China has reopened the beef market to U.S. farmers for the first time in roughly 14 years thanks to President Donald Trump’s negotiations with China, the president announced Thursday during a meeting with the nation’s governors and members of Congress.

“During a very brief conversation, I said, ‘President, the United States, we want to sell beef again to China.’ Now, they hadn’t sold it in, what, 14 years or something, and he looked at me and he said, ‘Say it again.’ I said, ‘We want to sell beef’ -- that's a big industry -- ‘in China.’ And he said, ‘We will sell beef in China.’ And we did other things too, but the one that really is the most interesting for the people at this table is beef,” Trump said.

“And I think, Governor, that made a big impact, and they're selling a lot of beef in China that hadn’t been -- for 14, 15 years, they were not allowed to sell beef in China. So we have the kind of a relationship that, I think, is going to be very aggressively sustained,” he said.

Trump said Chinese President Xi Jinping “made a very good speech” and said “he’s going to open up China.”

“He's going to open it up, take down a lot of the trade barriers -- maybe all of them -- but take down a lot of trade barriers,” the president said. “And he's going to get rid of a lot of the taxes or tariffs that they charge.”

The U.S. wants more trade and no barriers, Trump said.

“But the only way you can knock it down, you can't just go in -- for 25 years, presidents have been trying to negotiate, and they've been very unsuccessful, because they'd meet and they'd say, ‘Can we talk?’ And the Chinese would say, ‘Yes, we can.’ And that's what they do -- they talk for four years, then they'll talk for another four years, and that would be the end of that. Nothing would happen,” he said.

The president said renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is going “great.” He said there’s no timeline and that in the meantime, no one is moving their plants to Mexico.

“Now, in the meantime, nobody is moving into Mexico, because as long as NAFTA is in flux, no company is going to spend a billion dollars to build an automobile plant,” Trump said.

“I've told it to the Mexicans: We can negotiate forever, because as long as we have this negotiation going, nobody is going to build billion-dollar plants in Mexico, which is what they've been doing a lot,” the president said.

“They have taken our auto industry by the throat, and so many jobs have been lost. So many massive plants have been built in Mexico - top-of-the-line stuff - but it's not happening now, and they're coming back. Chrysler has moved back. A lot of them have moved back,” he said.

“And the same thing with agriculture, which is going to be our predominant discussion today. So agriculture is okay with NAFTA. Not great. We're going to make it great,” Trump said, “we're getting pretty close to a deal.”

“It could be three or four weeks. It could be two months. It could be five months. I don’t care. In fact, if everybody in this room closed their ears, I'd say I'd rather terminate NAFTA and make a brand new deal, but I'm not going to do that because I want everyone to be happy in this room, okay? We'll see how it goes,” he said.

NAFTA has been a disaster, the president said, costing hundreds of billions of dollars, thousands of U.S. factories and millions of jobs.

“So we're going to either come up with a great NAFTA deal, and a fair one for this country, or we're going to just do something else, and agriculture will be taken care of 100 percent,” Trump pledged.

“So we're going to have a discussion today and we're going to talk about agriculture as it relates to trade, primarily. Again, we're doing really well with China. I think we're having some great discussions, and we'll see what happens. We put a $50 billion tariff on, and then we put $100 billion tariff on, and, you know, at a certain point, they run out of bullets,” he said.

“Remember what I said: When you're $500 billion down, you can't lose a trade war, and I won't call it a trade war, because it's really a trade negotiation, but nobody ever negotiated from our side. Nobody ever did anything. All they did was talk, and in the meantime, we helped rebuild China because they took so much money -- bridges, and airports, and military, and everything. They took so much -- hundreds of billions of dollars out of our country,” Trump said.

“So now we're really negotiating, and I think they're going to treat us very fairly. I think they want to,” he said.


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