Trade WTF

“They don’t even want our wheat”

Written by SK Ashby

American wheat. It's terrible, isn't it? It must be if you listen to Trump.

Trump spoke to supporters in Pennsylvania this week where he complained about our trade deficit with Japan. And that's a pretty ordinary routine for him, but the way he went about it was not.

Trump claimed that we run a trade deficit with Japan because we buy their cars and they only buy our wheat in return but, more specifically, he bizarrely claimed that Japan only buys American wheat as a courtesy.

From Bloomberg:

We send them wheat, wheat. That’s not a good deal,” Trump said. “And they don’t even want our wheat.

Amplifying the point, he added that the Japanese only buy the crop “because they want us to at least feel that we’re OK. You know, they do it to make us feel good.

The National Association of Wheat Growers, a trade association for farmers, didn’t let the insult pass.

“Mr. President, Japan is the #1 market for US wheat exports on average,” the group tweeted out Wednesday. “They don’t buy our wheat because ‘they want us to feel okay.’ They buy it because it’s the highest quality wheat in the world. That’s not fake news.”

The relative quality of American wheat aside, is it actually true that we run a trade deficit with Japan because the only thing we sell them is wheat?

As you may know, that's not even remotely close to true. In fact, out of all the things America exports to Japan, wheat isn't even our top agricultural export according to the United States Trade Administration.

In 2018, wheat represented less than 1% of total U.S. sales to Japan. Corn brought in many more dollars — $2.8 billion compared to $0.7 billion from wheat.

The top ranking U.S. product (based on dollar value) was civilian aircraft, engines, equipment, and parts, which produced $5.6 billion in sales. Industrial machines and liquified natural gas came in second and third, each with about $4.5 billion in sales.

Wheat ranked 32nd.

And I ask how China, or Japan, or any other nation is suppose to negotiate deals with a large adult toddler who makes shit up?