NCBA Trade Guru Kent Bacus Says US will Continue to Fall Behind in Global Marketplace if Congress Doesn't Act Soon - Insists USMCA the Lynchpin to Securing Other Trade AgreementsTue, 30 Jul 2019 13:15:47 CDT
On Tuesday, at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Summer Business Meeting in Denver, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up with Kent Bacus, NCBA’s director of international trade and market access. With no shortage of policy issues to choose from, particularly in regard to matters of trade, Bacus says ratification of the US-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement (USMCA) is currently the top priority of the NCBA. Bacus explains that passing this trade treaty will have the most immediate and significant impact on the US beef market and is the lynchpin to securing bilateral trade agreements with our nation’s other major trading partners around the globe currently embroiled in ongoing trade negotiations with the US. Listen to the complete exchange between Bacus and Hays by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
While Bacus insists the USMCA needs to be ratified sooner rather than later, the reality is that it will most likely not be brought up for a vote by Congress until at least mid-September if not early October as the House has already adjourned for its summer recess with the Senate set to adjourn as well any time now.
“In the meantime, we know some of the House Democrats are still meeting with the Trump Administration to try to iron out some of the issues related to labor and environment that they want to discuss,” Bacus said. “We’re hopeful we’ll see some conclusion there because we’ve got to get moving on this.”
Bacus says if action is not taken soon, the process to approve this agreement could easily spill over into next year, which is of course a presidential election year and as Bacus puts it - “you’re not going to get a whole lot done anyway during a presidential election year.” If that happens, Bacus says it could seriously delay any trade pacts from moving forward - asserting that foreign governments around the world waiting in line for their own trade agreement with the US are watching Congress to see if the USMCA is even viable in the current political environment. In the No. 1 US beef export market for example, Japan, the playing field must be leveled as competitors are gaining the upper hand there under the CPTPP. However, this will continue until the USMCA is ratified. Bacus says the US pulled out of the TPP when the Trump Administration came into office and he believes Japan will not risk being burned twice if its government doubts the possibility of successfully passing a bilateral agreement with the US.
“We’ve got to move this agreement forward because there are other issues Congress needs to work on as well,” Bacus said. “So, it’s important we clear the decks with USMCA, move this forward and pass it and then let’s start in on all these other trade agreements that are waiting in the wings - because we’re going to continue to fall behind if we don’t take action.”
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