2020 was good for trade, hopefully 2021 will be great for producers

Something that has turned around for the better this year is trade. As 2020 draws to a close, the U.S. is busy working to improve export markets for American farmers.

A lot of the talk in agriculture this year surrounds Chinese agriculture purchases under the Phase One Trade Agreement with the U.S.

Dave Salmonsen is the Senior Director of Congressional Relations with the American Farm Bureau. He says that after a slow start to the year, China really began buying larger quantities of U.S. goods in the fall.

“If you add the product that’s been shipped and that’s contracted for sale, we’re about $27 billion dollars worth overall to China,” according to Salmonsen. “China has implemented about 50 of the 57 individual standards commitments they made in the agreement to lower barriers for U.S. exports of beef, and pork, and poultry, dairy products, horticultural products, and really sets up going forward.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. is busy negotiating a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom. Salmonsen says that the deal needs to get done by early next year when the Trade Promotion Authority is set to expire in 2021. TPA gives trade agreements special priority once they get to Congress.

“It will be an up or down vote, without amendments, but these provisions run out on July 1st of 2021. For an agreement to go to Congress and get this kind of treatment, it has to go up there 90 days before July 1st, so there’s an effective deadline of April 1st,” he explains. “Now the negotiators from both sides are working on a lot of different issues. There’s about 29 chapters to this trade agreement, but for agriculture, the two main ones, of course, are dealing with tariffs and standards.”

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office announced it is looking into whether Canada is using tariff rate quotas to limit U.S. access to its dairy markets.

“You get a certain amount of product in at zero tariff. If you try to sell more than the certain amount, then the high Canadian tariffs would kick in,” he adds. “Our USTR thinks that certain actions by the Canadian government, the administration of these quotas, are favoring Canadian firms, are blocking access to U.S. farmers trying to export into that Canadian market, and so, the USTR is starting an action to make sure that Canada lives up to what it agreed to.”






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