China Trade

A container ship is unloaded at the Virginia International Gateway terminal in Norfolk, Va. China has announced tariff hikes on $60 billion of U.S. goods in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s escalation of a fight over technology and other trade disputes.

Montana’s federal delegation is calling for a swift end to the trade war with China after negotiations between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping fell apart late last week.

With negotiations stalled, Trump imposed tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. China has retaliated with $60 billion worth of tariffs on American goods, and Trump is now preparing to impose tariffs on the remaining $300 billion worth of Chinese exports to the United States.

Sen. Steve Daines spoke to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during a Senate hearing on Wednesday, highlighting the negative effects of the trade war on farmers, ranchers, the outdoor industry and REC Silicon, a factory in Butte.

“I will tell you we need results,” said Daines, a Bozeman Republican, to Mnuchin. “I think we need them soon.”

He suggested the Trump administration work with U.S. allies to craft a multilateral agreement that addresses China’s unfair trade practices, intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer and violations of World Trade Organization regulations.

Like Daines, Sen. Jon Tester, a Big Sandy Democrat, said he has heard from Montana farmers and ranchers that they can no longer make ends meet because of the tariffs, which reduce access to foreign markets and drive up the costs of equipment and building materials.

As a farmer, Tester has been a vocal critic of the trade war, advocating for its end and pushing for legislation that would give Congress a role in imposing tariffs.

“We can’t continue down this road and expect family farm agriculture to survive,” he said Wednesday.

Rep. Greg Gianforte, a Bozeman Republican, also is calling for an end to the trade war.

“As I’ve said from day one, no one wins with a trade war, and I’ve urged the president and administration officials — from our chief trade negotiator to our ambassador to China — to quickly resolve talks and announce new trade deals that work for Montana,” he said.

Prior to the recent trade war escalation, China and the United States spent weeks working toward an agreement related to lifting tariffs, opening Chinese markets to American companies and addressing China’s theft of U.S. intellectual property. As the trade war looked to be ending late last week, China called for major changes to the tentative agreement. The two countries then ended negotiations.

They now plan to meet next month, but the new tariffs and the uncertainty surrounding a deal has roiled stock markets and worried U.S. businesses and consumers. Trump has said the tariffs provide leverage in reaching a deal. In Montana, Daines, Tester and Gianforte remain concerned that ongoing tariffs restrict agricultural exports, a main driver of the state’s economy.

Perrin Stein can be reached at 406-582-2648 or at Follow her on Twitter @PerrinStein.

Perrin Stein is the county, state and federal government reporter for the Chronicle.

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