WASHINGTON — As the U.S. and China resume high-level trade talks Wednesday, President Donald Trump sees himself with the upper hand given China’s lagging economic growth, but there is pressure for Trump and his administration to cut a deal too.
Chinese tariffs imposed to counter U.S. levies are unpopular with leading business groups and have hit regions and constituencies that Trump counts among his staunchest supporters, including soybean farmers in the Great Plains, auto workers in the Midwest and oil-industry workers in the Dakotas and Texas.
In a measure of the issue’s significance,Trump mentioned China 18 times in a speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual conference two weeks ago, offering assurances that a deal was within reach. “Wait until you see what happens” with China, he told the crowd in New Orleans. “They’re already back-ordering, right?…They’re going to order, and they’ve already started.”
Trump won the White House partly on a pledge to renegotiate trade deals with the aim of protecting American workers, a promise that had bipartisan appeal. If Trump’s optimistic projection proves correct, he stands to secure a big victory — one that his predecessors, despite criticizing China’s trade practices, were unable to achieve.
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