Chief Ag Trade Negotiator Gregg Doud Says Right Way to Approach Trade is to Go on OffenseFri, 09 Nov 2018 04:48:24 CST
Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the US Trade Representative's Office Gregg Doud appeared at the 2018 National Association of Farm Broadcasters Convention in Kansas City Thursday, to address members of the ag media during a press conference held in conjunction with the meeting. Doud began with prepared remarks regarding President Trump's trade agenda. You can hear Doud's opening comments by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.
According to Doud, total ag exports for the year to date are currently up six percent from $102 to $108 billion. "That's not a bad year to date," Doud remarked, adding that the US ag industry is on track for potentially reaching up to $150 billion for the year. "That speaks to the trust people have for US agriculture and the reliability of our products," he said.
Doud spoke to the "extraordinary" accomplishment of finalizing the USMCA Trade Agreement. The two countries involved make up nearly a third of total exports for the US ag industry.
Doud says there were many difficult discussions that were undertaken with Canada and Mexico and credited the leadership of President Trump and USTR Robert Lighthizer with navigating those conversations that ultimately moved the needle on talks when negotiations at times reached standstills. He emphasized Canada's issues with dairy imports as being particularly difficult in these negotiations, in addition to areas of the biotechnology sector.
Canada and Mexico also levied tariffs on the US in retaliation to tariffs on steel and aluminum products ordered by President Trump. These tariffs have primarily impacted the pork and dairy segments. Doud assured that the losses American producers have incurred are not happening in vane and would be redeemed eventually as his office continues to make progress on removing those tariffs.
In the meantime, though, Doud says the US is setting up for an offensive strategy presently, taking an aggressive stance on negotiating our way into two key markets including Japan and the European Union.
"This is going to be an interesting conversation," he said referring to talks with the EU, whose leaders have predicated the possibility of initiating talks on the exclusion of agriculture. "I really appreciate my boss, Ambassador Lighthizer, who has said 'yeah I know you want to talk about automobiles and stuff like that,' but he has made it very clear that ag will be a part of the conversation."
Doud called the EU "backward-looking" and "protectionist" in the way it has positioned itself in the global ag market and denounced the entity's trade policies as non-science based and economically counterproductive.
Regarding China, Doud underscored the nation's blatant disregard of appropriate World Trade Organization rules and requirements, insisting that the Administration's action against China are justifiable and necessary.
"The response for China is for them to address this issue," he said. "Hopefully we can begin to have that conversation."
However, he explained that the US must be cautious as it discusses terms to potentially end the ongoing trade war, warning against selling China any rights to US products. He upheld Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue's advice to producers that farmers should diversify their operations to ensure they can sustain themselves financially as these negotiations continue to unfold- but gave no timeframe as to when a resolution might occur.
"Obviously it's important we have a relationship with China and we had a good conversation with them when we were there last," Doud said. "But on the other side of that conversation, we have some things we need to address and things we're serious about. This is difficult... but it's got to be done."
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