AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — President Donald Trump took a victory lap Sunday as he addressed farmers about a pair of new U.S. trade agreements with its North American neighbors and with China.
“We did it,” Trump said as he recalled his campaign promises to improve trade with China and separately with Canada and Mexico.
When Trump spoke to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s convention last year, he urged farmers to continue supporting him even as they suffered financially in the fallout from his trade war with China and a partial shutdown of the federal government.
Trump’s follow-up speech Sunday in Austin, Texas, gave him a chance to make the case to farmers that he kept two promises on trade that he made as a candidate — to improve trade with China and separately with Canada and Mexico — and that farmers stand to benefit from both pacts.
“They hit ‘paydirt’ with our incredible new Trade Deals: CHINA, JAPAN, MEXICO, CANADA, SOUTH KOREA, and many others!” Trump tweeted shortly before flying in from West Palm Beach, Florida, mentioning U.S. trade agreements with two additional Asian countries.
Trump signed a preliminary trade deal with China at the White House last Wednesday that commits Beijing to boosting its imports of U.S. manufacturing, energy and farm goods by $200 billion this year and next. That includes larger purchases of soybeans and other farm goods expected to reach $40 billion a year, the U.S. has said, though critics wonder if China can meet the targets.
In Austin, Trump described the trade agreement with China as “groundbreaking” and said, “We’re going to sell the greatest product you’ve ever seen.”
Also last week, the Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a successor to the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. The administration designed the new agreement to return some factory production to the United States, mostly automobiles.
Trump said in Austin that U.S. farmers will also benefit under USMCA, which he said will “massively boost exports” for farmers, ranchers, growers from “North to South” and “from sea to shining sea.”
NAFTA had triggered a surge in trade among the three countries, but Trump and other critics blamed it for U.S. job losses brought about when American factories moved production south of the border to take advantage of low-wage labor in Mexico.
The House passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada deal in December and Trump is expected to sign it soon.
In his remarks to farmers, Trump claimed his administration is doing things no other administration has ever done.
“And what do I get out of it? I get impeached,” he said. “That’s what I get. By these radical-left lunatics, I get impeached. But that’s OK. The farmers are sticking with Trump.”
The president’s trial in the Senate gets underway in earnest on Tuesday.
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE Associated Press