President TrumpDonald John TrumpMeadows threatens to force a vote on Rosenstein impeachment Republican feels ‘victimized’ by Twitter ‘shadow banning’ GOP senators surprised to attend Trump’s tariffs announcement MORE on Thursday took a victory lap over his handshake agreement to avoid a trade war with the European Union, declaring “basically, we opened up Europe” to U.S. exports – even though no new deal is in place.
“We just opened up Europe for you farmers. You’re not going to be too angry with Trump, I can tell you,” Trump said at a jobs event in Peosta, Iowa.
Referring to the agreement struck Wednesday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Trump said, “you have just gotten yourself one big market.”
As he spoke, Trump held up a green and yellow baseball cap with the phrase “Make Our Farmers Great Again!” emblazoned on the front.
The president is trying to assuage the fears of farmers who are worried about financial pain caused by the prospect of an escalating trade with with Europe and China, but he spoke as if discussing a finalized bargain.
Trump agreed to put off auto tariffs on Europe and the two leaders said they would begin broader talks over lowering other trade barriers on industrial products. The Europeans also agreed to import more U.S. soybeans, though they were already preparing to take that step before Wednesday’s meeting.
The deal was otherwise vague and no tariffs have yet been lifted. The upcoming negotiations between the U.S. and Europe are not guaranteed to produce an agreement that significantly reduces trade barriers.
The U.S. also remains embroiled in a trade dispute with China, which has imposed retaliatory tariffs on corn and soybean producers that are raising fears in heartland states like Iowa.
The economic pressure on U.S. farmers could pose a political risk to the Republican Party in the November midterm elections, since many farmers live in states Trump won in 2016.
On Tuesday, the Department of Agriculture announced a plan to give $12 billion in aid to U.S. farmers hit by retaliatory international tariffs on American produce, grain and meat exports.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueFarm groups fear Trump aid won’t fix trade damage Rep. Claudia Tenney: Impact of Trump tariffs is a ‘mixed bag’ Trump-backed candidate wins Georgia governor nomination MORE called the assistance plan “a short-term solution to allow President Trump time to work on long-term trade deals to benefit agriculture and the entire U.S. economy.”
Republicans and Democrats both dismissed the idea as “welfare” for farms, calling on Trump to remove his original tariffs.
“They put in place a policy that requires our farmers to go on welfare and, you know, it’s a ridiculous policy that just needs to be reversed,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerOvernight Defense: Pompeo spars with senators at hearing | Trump, Putin meeting won’t happen until next year | Pentagon was caught off guard by White House on Syria Pompeo spars with senators at testy hearing Farm groups fear Trump aid won’t fix trade damage MORE (R-Tenn.).