ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA, U.S. — The “list of unwarranted trade barriers is long” with China, Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, assistant U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for Agricultural Affairs and Commodity Policy, said Aug. 6 at the International Sweetener Symposium, sponsored by the American Sugar Alliance.
The United States wants a trade deal with “actual, verifiable and enforceable” results, and we are seeking structural changes in China, Lauritsen said. She also clarified China’s latest action against the United States. Prior to last week, certain products were exempt from tariffs. After Aug. 3, no sales are exempt.
“We’ll have to see what that means,” she said.
China’s retaliatory action was in response to President Donald Trump‘s earlier announcement of new 10% tariffs on $300 billion worth of U.S. imports from China that were not previously included in tariffs, effective Sept. 1.
Lauritsen also noted several bilateral trade talks that the United States was involved in or soon would be, including Japan, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Brazil, along with several African nations that have expressed interest in trade deals.
With Japan, the United States’ third largest agricultural export market, she noted “multiple trade barriers, including Japan’s high tariffs on certain products.”
Concerning the U.K., “We will be ready as soon as they are ready,” Lauritsen said, noting that the U.K. situation was dependent on whether it had a “hard” or “soft” exit from the E.U. on Oct. 31.
There are major scope issues with E.U., she said, with the United States insisting that agriculture be part of any trade talks but the E.U. refusing.
She called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement a “state of the art” deal reflecting the Trump administration’s view on trade.
Lauritsen also noted that the USMCA would have no effect on the U.S.-Mexico Suspension Agreements concerning sugar trade between the two nations. Further, she said any bilateral talks between the United States and other countries would not undermine the U.S. sugar program.
Finally, she also said the United States has had a proactive agenda with the World Trade Organization (WTO) the past couple of years as it tries to get the WTO to pay more attentional to transparency, and to reset agricultural negotiations on 2019, not as of 2001.
“The world has changed,” she said. “The United States is advocating free, fair and reciprocal trade” as it seeks to upgrade trade policy to the 21st century economy.