American farm groups are anxious to see how the White House will negotiate trade deals without starting a trade war now that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is officially dead.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday officially withdrawing from talks to enter into a trade partnership with 11 other countries in the Asia Pacific, and is looking at dropping out of NAFTA, the groundbreaking trade deal of the 1990s. (RELATED: Trump Signs Executive Order Killing Obama’s Legacy Trade Deal)
The most powerful lobby for the beef industry is worried about sparking a trade war with China and Canada, which would have been partners in the TPP.
“Sparking a trade war with Canada, Mexico, and Asia will only lead to higher prices for American-produced beef in those markets and put our American producers at a much steeper competitive disadvantage,” Tracy Brunner, president of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said in a statement Monday.
“TPP and NAFTA have long been convenient political punching bags, but the reality is that foreign trade has been one of the greatest success stories in the long history of the U.S. beef industry,” Brunner said.
Without suitable alternatives, the beef industry would suffer “tremendous loss,” Brunner said.
The White House will begin looking for bilateral trade agreements rather than agreements that put differently sized countries on par, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a press conference Monday afternoon.
Trump is reviewing all current trade deals, and will “increase market access wherever he can,” Spicer said. Any big trade deal could be at risk under the Trump administration if the president believes he can find a better deal negotiating with individual countries.
“[Trump] is always going to be fighting for the interests of the country and American worker,” Spicer said. “How we engage, and with whom, is going to decided on whether or not we can get a deal that benefits our country economically and in terms of national security.”
“It’s not about multi-lateral agreements under a Trump administration,” Spicer said. “It’s about bilateral agreements, where we can figure out, country to country, how can we fight for the American worker gain them access to another market that’s going to benefit our large and small businesses who want to sell additional goods and services.”
Negotiating trade deals soon is important for the agriculture sector, which relies on foreign exports.
“It is critical that the new administration begin work immediately to do all it can to develop new markets for U.S. agricultural goods and to protect and advance U.S. agricultural interests in the critical Asia-Pacific region,” Skippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation said in a statement.
Rural communities, which voted overwhelmingly for Trump, depends on agriculture trade, and “more than 25 percent of all U.S. ag production ultimately goes to markets outside our borders,” Duvall said.
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