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Is Progress Being Made on Trade?


Is Progress Being Made on Trade?

While the media continues the drumbeat of doom and gloom on trade, top U.S. negotiators suggest progress is being made. U.S. top ag trade negotiator Gregg Doud told the Senate Ag Committee last week that trade is a t top priority for the administration, “This is the issue of our time in agriculture, to work and build to get that relationship with China where it needs to be.”

But he said progress is slow and is going to be slow, “Because there are so many problems.” Yet Doud said, in the end, it will be worth the wait, “The benefit if we get issues revolved is enormous.”

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow voiced concern that, if this dispute goes on too long, farmers will lose market share, “Producers in my state are concerned that current and future administrative actions could result in agriculture permanently losing important trading partners.” USDA Undersecretary for Trade Ted McKinney responded that, once an agreement is reached, U.S. ag trade will again start flowing to China. “Once we can renegotiate, whatever time that is, I think ag can pick up where it left off and pick up and go,” he stated. “That is what we are looking to do whenever the time is right.”

As for our other trade dispute with Canada, Doud said dairy remains the sticking point. The main problem is our system is so much different than theirs. “Ours is an open system and theirs is a closed system,” he explained. “We are working day and night to try and find a solution.” While Doud refused to put a timeline on a NAFTA agreement with Canada, he is hopeful it will be soon.

Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly said farmers need a timeline and assurances as they plan for the future, “It seems like the light at the end of the tunnel is a train coming at my farmers. They need to know there is an off ramp or an end to this.”

Over the weekend, the President pushed back against congressional pressure to ease up on trade. Mr. Trump said, “We are under no pressure to make a deal with China. They are under pressure to make a deal with us. Our markets are surging, theirs are collapsing. We’ll soon be taking in billions in tariffs and making products at home. If we meet, we meet.” While the U.S. economy is seeing faster economic growth and joblessness at near record-low levels, China’s economy is facing long-term questions, including a sharp drop in its currency value.

More coverage this week here at Hoosier Ag Today.