This was the tweet Friday from Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue that was retweeted by President Donald Trump as they did a victory dance after their Oval Office meeting.
This chart is from December 2018 and shows year to date soybean purchases of United States exports through October 31, 2018.
The chart it through October 31, 2018.
China imported ZERO soybeans from the United States in November 2018.
China finally agreed to import 1.1 million tons of soybeans in December in a deal related to a potential (but as yet unconsummated) trade cease-fire between President Donald Trumpand Chinese President Xi Jinping.
This chart below shows the United States exports of soybeans for 2018. The purple line represents exports to China. Yes, you are reading that correctly.
While Secretary Perdue and President Trump seemed so proud today of the 10 million metric ton pledge, it would not come close to undoing the damage of President Trump’s tariff war with China.
Worse, many Chinese buyers are likely to stick with the suppliers they found to replace American crops. A busnessman like Trump should know that it is easier and cheaper to keep a customer than to take one back once they give their business to one of your rivals.
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I would also add that this term the Trump administration likes to throw around, “committed to buying” is not the same as closing a sale and collecting a payment.
For example, after his May 2017 visit to Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump claimed he and the Saudis had concluded $350 billion worth of military and economic development deals. Then White House Spokesperson Sean Spicer repeated the claim.
Bruce Riedel, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution had this to say:
“I’ve spoken to contacts in the defense business and on the Hill, and all of them say the same thing: There is no $110 billion deal. Instead, there are a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but not contracts. Many are offers that the defense industry thinks the Saudis will be interested in someday. So far nothing has been notified to the Senate for review. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the arms sales wing of the Pentagon, calls them ‘intended sales’. None of the deals identified so far are new, all began in the Obama administration.”
The arms sales Trump and Spicer referenced then fall into two categories: fake news, and things Barack Obama did that Trump is now trying to take credit for.
And I would love to see Donald Trump try to claim that letters of intent are actually firm commitments.
Because he signed a letter of intent for Trump Tower Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign even though Rudy Giuliani lied and said he did not.
In a January 31, 2019 interview with the New York Times, Donald Trump described the letter of intent he signed for the Trump Tower Moscow project this way:
“I had no money invested. It was a letter of intent, or option. It was a free option. It was a nothing. And I wasn’t doing anything. I don’t consider that even business. And frankly, that wasn’t even on my radar. If you take a look at that, take a look at the deal. There was no money put up. There was no transfer.”
In other words, the letter of intent was worthless.
Just like the Saudi arms deals.
Just like today’s soybean announcement.
And if any of the arms sales do close, they will be a drop in the bucket compared to what was bragged about and the credit should rightfully go to President Barack Obama.
Big words, empty promises, and stolen credit.
I think we just found the Trump 2020 campaign slogan.