The “State of Business Conference” looks to expand global trade so American farmers can benefit

During the U.S. Chamber of Commerce annual “State of Business Conference,” leaders from across the world break down trade relations with some of our top partners.

USDA puts total U.S. ag exports for 2020 around $136.5 billion dollars. As of October, China accounted for $23 billion dollars. Charles Freeman, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Asia, says that Chinese subsidies that distort the market are a challenge for American exporters.

According to Freeman, “China is spending an awful lot of money supporting domestic industry to try to improve their innovative capacity and be globally dominant.”

That includes efforts by the Chinese government to rebuild the hog herd destroyed by African swine fever and eventually become self sufficient for pork.

Freeman says that the U.S. will likely prioritize a global effort to fight bad business practices by China, like unfair subsidies and intellectual property theft.

“The administration is really going to try to focus on improving relations with allies and friends both in Europe, Japan, and elsewhere as a means to manage the challenge that China presents,” he notes.

Marjorie Chorlins, the Chamber’s Vice President for European Affairs, says that the E.U. will likely agree to work with the U.S. to manage Chinese relations, as well as other goals.

“First and foremost, I would say that the pandemic response and recovery, in addition we’re looking at things like climate, so energy, environment, and sustainability,” Chorlins states. “We are also thinking about reform of the multilateral trading system, WTO reform, to make it a more robust body for both creating trade rules and settling disputes.”

She says that with the United Kingdom now officially separated from the European Union, trade negotiators will be looking to quickly solidify a U.S./U.K. trade deal.

“There’s no doubt that we are going to see more disruptions and it’s going to be tougher to trade between the U.K. and the E.U., that’s important for American companies because a lot of companies have invested in the U.K. with an eye towards accessing the European consumer market,” she adds.

Closer to home, Mexico remains the second largest importer of U.S. agricultural exports.

Neil Herrington, the Chamber’s Vice President for the Americas, says that more investments are needed in Latin America to spur growth.

“Addressing issues like insufficient infrastructure, energy integration, digital transformation, workforce development, ensuring supply integrity, and, above all, adherence to rule of law. No problem, no priority is greater for this region as we try to attract investment and advance competitiveness going forward.”

The Chamber is also prioritizing trade with India, as one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

In 2019, U.S. ag exports to the country grew 23 percent, lead by larger shipments of nuts and cotton.


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