Fear of the Breakdown of Negotiations, Uncertainty of Elections Linger as Trade's Importance GrowsTue, 03 Apr 2018 12:06:14 CDT
According to Kent Bacus, director of international trade and market access for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the organization and its members remain disappointed that the US is not a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal which President Donald Trump withdrew from upon taking office, promising instead to negotiate bilateral deals with our foreign customers. However, at this point, Bacus told Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays that there seems to be little opportunity right now to get any bilateral deals done - particularly with Japan which NCBA is prioritizing.
“That’s been the frustrating part of this for a long time. The administration has said they were going to seek bilateral agreements and to make that a priority,” he said. “We’ve asked that Japan be at the top of that list, just given the economic significance and value that means for our producers. But, we still have a long way to go.”
Had the US not withdrawn from TPP, Bacus says we would already be enjoying the benefits of that trade deal. Instead, US beef continues to deal with a 38.5 percent tariff in Japan - plus a 50 percent snap back - which will stay in place until such time that a bilateral deal is struck. Beyond those concerns, the beef industry joins the rest of the agriculture community in worries that NAFTA be successfully renegotiated as the three partner nations continue to search for common ground in modernizing the agreement. The biggest concern there, Bacus says, being the President potentially following through with threats of withdrawal and what influence elections will have both domestically and in the governments of our foreign partners.
“Withdrawal is still on the table and if we don’t get what we’re seeking then that’s always a threat,” Bacus said. “But, there’s also a lot of uncertainty with Mexico’s elections and you’ve got to keep in mind Canada has two provincial elections that are coming up this year, too. So, trade is becoming a political issue and in the midterm elections - we need more people in Congress who have pro-trade views and who can support us there. We need to realize that 96 percent of our consumers live outside the US borders. Trade is really something we need to focus on.”
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