Bloomberg pledges to de-escalate US trade tensions with China

Mark Niquette

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is pledging to de-escalate trade tensions with China and negotiate lower tariffs on soybeans, cotton and other goods as part of an agriculture policy he said will prioritize cooperation with allies to pressure Beijing.

Bloomberg says in a proposal released Friday that while President Donald Trump is touting the initial phase of a trade deal with China signed last month, his trade war has slashed U.S. farm exports, especially soybeans, that are unlikely to recover as much as promised.

Bloomberg fans gather at Minglewood Hall as Democratic presidential contender Michael Bloomberg delivers his stump speech during a campaign stop in Memphis, Tenn. on Feb. 28, 2020.

Trump’s $28 billion in aid to farmers may help some in the short term, but long-term U.S. trading relationships have been damaged and farmers are hurting financially, he said.“Donald Trump’s trade war has been devastating for America’s farmers, causing farm debt and farm bankruptcies to reach record highs,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

(Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)

Bloomberg said he would prioritize cooperation with allies and the World Trade Organization and respond to what he called China’s unfair trade practices such as high tariffs, subsidies and forced technology transfers “by leading international efforts to pressure the country to change its ways.”

The former New York mayor pledged to open new international and domestic markets for U.S. farm products but didn’t provide specifics about how he would do it.

Bloomberg is also promising to promote more competition in the agricultural industry and “combat farming monopolies,” including by requiring the Justice Department to subject mergers and acquisitions to greater scrutiny and review recent deals.

As part of his policy, Bloomberg proposes at least doubling the $2.5 billion in annual federal investment in agricultural research and expanding funding for conservation programs to reduce pollution and emissions.

Bloomberg was challenged at the South Carolina Democratic presidential debate this week about an earlier comment that Chinese President Xi Jinping “is not a dictator.” The next night, in a CNN town hall, he said as president he would pressure China on human rights abuses, but again stopped short of calling Xi a dictator.