Chief ag negotiator expects $20 billion in trade retaliation

By  | 

DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- In 2017, Iowa exported more than $13 billion in manufactured goods and value-added agriculture products to one hundred 85 countries.

Last week President Trump announced steel and aluminum tariffs against top American trading partners like Canada and Mexico.

At the World Pork Expo, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds pointed out agriculture challenges due to trade disputes.

Reynolds says, "Global export market uncertainty has already resulted in considerable lost value for U.S. pork producers and we want to continue to do everything we can to expand trade and not contract it."

The Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative Gregg Doud was also at the World Pork Expo, he says there will be consequences before a deal is struck.

President Trump has declared what is called 232 action, which is what the U.S. is doing against other countries for their marketing operations in steel and aluminum. Doud says there's only one facility left in the U.S. making the aluminum that goes into transformers.

He calls that a national security issue, "There is, or will be, retaliation against U.S. agricultural exports because of what we're doing in other areas unrelated to agriculture. That retaliation is going to be somewhere in the neighborhood, depending on how you slice it and dice it, over $20 billion of our $140 billion in ag exports."

However, Doud was quick to say that agriculture deserves a seat at the table while tariffs and trade deficits are discussed.

As the main retaliation point, he presses for priority, "Other countries understand the political power of U.S. agriculture. They understand if they want to get our attention where they go and for my point and making the point with my boss, I just say, 'Look, that means when it comes to agriculture, we're at the front of the line to get our problems fixed first.'"

Doud had just returned from negotiations in China, he says there will be more challenges in the future.

The President will soon impose tariffs on specific Chinese technology in what Doud calls 301 action, which works against technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation. Doud says infringements have cost the U.S. $50 billion. China's plan is to retaliate against 301 with $17 billion in agriculture tariffs, mostly in soybeans.

Doud says these actions are a part of the president's negotiation tactics. "China is a command and control economy. The forces of supply and demand are really not something that reverberates with them very well. And when that happens, they're looking to shut off valves in terms of meat imports and grain imports and trying to turn these things around. I'm confident that over the longer period of time, China's going to need us in agriculture."