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The document was released on March 1 and outlines the key trade policy principles and objectives of the Trump administration.
Ben Conner, USW director of policy, said the trade policy agenda shows that there may be substantial common ground, despite the fact the U.S. wheat industry supports issues that are at odds with Trump’s trade rhetoric. For example, the industry supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is a major beneficiary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and hopes China remains a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“An aggressive trade policy agenda does not necessarily mean aggression towards supply chains, and likely means further opening of trade opportunities,” Conner wrote in the March 9 Wheat Letter.
Conner said the agenda’s guiding principle is that trade should be expanded “in a way that is freer and fairer for all Americans,” with four major priorities:
• Defending national sovereignty over trade policy;
• Strictly enforcing U.S. trade laws;
• Using leverage to open foreign markets;
• Negotiating new and better trade deals.
Conner said follow through on this trade agenda could benefit U.S. wheat customers. Barriers to U.S. exports make imported wheat more expensive and sometimes cost-prohibitive, he said.
“If the United States takes a more energetic approach to eliminating these barriers, wheat importers and exporters alike could benefit,” he wrote.
Conner said he is not suggesting there is no cause for concern. The administration’s concern about trade in goods deficits and the emphasis on bilateral negotiations doesn’t align with USW’s preferred approach to a more open and transparent international marketplace.
“However, if this policy statement represents the Administration’s trade agenda going forward, there may be cause for optimism,” Conner said.