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China will remain top priority under new Administration

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Curious minds wonder: What do the next four years hold for American agriculture? A former USDA Under Secretary offers some insight, particularly when it comes to international trade.

Randy Russell, president of the Russell Group, says, “The Trump Administration focused heavily on using tariffs as a means to an end.” Russell believes trade negotiations will be conducted differently, under a Biden Administration.

“The Trump Administration focused heavily on using tariffs. By that, to get people’s attention and get them to the negotiating table,” Russell says. “They used it on steel and aluminum with Canada and Mexico, and the Administration certainly imposed significant tariffs on China, many of which remain.”

Trump Administration officials successfully negotiated a Phase One trade deal with China. Russell expects “more cooperative efforts,” especially as former vice president Biden looks to maintain amicable trading relations with China.

“With a Biden Administration, you might see two things,” Russell says. “One is an effort to put more pressure on China by working with our allies. Number two is reducing, or eliminating tariffs and seeing if there is a reciprocal action to lower the temperature in the relationship.”

Chinese officials view trade differently, which oftentimes causes tension between the world’s two largest economies. Russell believes China will remain a “vexing problem” in the years ahead.

“It doesn’t matter who’s president in their eyes. They are on a path, over the next 20 to 30 years, to get to a certain point economically,” Russell says.

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