Trade is the backbone of U.S. agriculture. President Trump has made it clear NAFTA is a job killer and has threatened to scrap the entire deal. Many in agriculture worry current negotiations will collapse ending two decades of easy access to nearby markets.

Actions by the administration over the past 12 months have found many countries side-stepping the U.S. and working on trade deals of their own.

With no indication his stance will soften, the President is making a 12-day swing through Asia - a region he has often chastised.

@PaulYeager has the details.

Several Asian countries rolled out the red carpet for President Trump’s world tour.

One of the most watched stops was in China as much of the discussion there was over applying pressure on North Korea to stand down from nuclear threats. China also is North Korea’s largest trading partner.

A round of business deals signed this week between the U.S. and China could top $253 billion. Contracts on computer chipsets, jetliners and soybeans were signed.

Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce: “Today's signings are good examples of how we can productively build up our bilateral trade."

Earlier in the week, transactions worth $9 billion were agreed upon. Among them was China’s biggest online retailer, JD.com, which has pledged to buy $1.2 billion of American beef and pork. The deals are aimed at blunting criticism of Beijing’s trade practices, surpluses and market barriers.

The president campaigned on reducing the multi-billion dollar trade deficit with the Asian superpower. But he took a different tone this week while in Beijing.

President Donald Trump: “I don’t blame China. After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit. I do blame past administrations for allowing this out-of-control trade deficit to take place and to grow.”

China’s trade surplus with America widened in the first ten months of 2017, topping $223 billion.

China is the number three export market for the United States after Canada and Mexico. U.S. exports to China rose 77 percent between 2007 and 2016, but Washington still reported a $347 billion trade deficit with China last year.

As Trump worked with President Xi Jinping, two other trade negotiations were taking place. Member nations of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and Trans-Pacific Partnership are looking to weave their economies together.

Foreign and trade ministers from 21 Pacific Rim countries posed for a family photo, but like many families, there’s more brewing beneath the surface. The ministers are working for a consensus on open markets, despite the U.S. pushback on ‘free trade’ ahead of summit meetings in Vietnam this week. Gathering countries are searching for a modified version of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement that President Obama entered and from which President Trump withdrew.

Trump told the APEC leaders Friday the U.S. has been unfairly treated by the World Trade Organization. And the president sounded like he was back on the campaign trail in his comments.

President Donald Trump: “They engaged in product dumping, subsidised goods, currency manipulation and predatory industrial policies.”

For Market to Market, I’m Paul Yeager.

Contact: paul.yeager@iptv.org