Home Indiana Agriculture News Lighthizer Cautious About China Trade Progress

Lighthizer Cautious About China Trade Progress

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At a hearing with the House Ways and Means Committee this week, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said it’s unclear if negotiations with China will bring the trade war to an end. Politico says that’s a far more cautious outlook than President Trump has presented recently.

Lighthizer says “much still need to be done” before a deal can be reached between the two countries. He also warned that negotiations, as well as the broader U.S. trade agenda, will crumble if Congress doesn’t pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Pact.  “It just has to pass,” Lighthizer says. “If it doesn’t, you’ll have no credibility at all with China and you’ll have no credibility on any deals with your other trading partners.”

The USTR office is set to formally postpone raising duties on $200 billion in Chinese goods, which was set to happen on Saturday. There is no new date set for potentially hiking up the tariffs. Lighthizer is planning a trip to Tokyo, Japan, probably in the next month, to discuss China and open up U.S.-Japan trade negotiations.

Chinese Grain Subsidies Are Too High

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), along with other commodity groups and the USDA, welcomed a ruling from the World Trade Organization dispute panel regarding Chinese grain subsidies. The WTO panel ruled that Chinese government payments to farmers for grains exceeded China’s WTO agreements and significantly distort global wheat trade. The dispute panel formed after the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office challenged China’s domestic agricultural support programs for wheat, corn, and rice through the WTO dispute settlement process back in September of 2016.

USW President Vince Peterson says they’re pleased that the Trump Administration has continued to support his group through the dispute. “U.S. farmers have been hurt by China’s overproduction and protectionist measures for too long,” Peterson says, “and it’s past time for China to start living up to its commitments.” A 2015 Iowa State University study said China’s domestic market support price for wheat at the time of almost $10 per bushel cost U.S. wheat farmers between $650 and $700 million annually in lost income by preventing export opportunities and suppressing global wheat prices. “The past two decades have been a lost opportunity for the WTO negotiating function as major countries like China have refused to take on new responsibilities,” Peterson says. “Perhaps this will be the wake-up call countries need to realize restricting trade opportunities hurts everyone.”

Source: NAFB News