Iowa government, ag leaders call for end to Chinese trade dispute

Iowa government, ag leaders call for end to Chinese trade dispute

Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and 10 of the state’s agriculture leaders have let the Trump administration know that a quick end to the Chinese trade standoff is critical.

The leaders sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on May 11 urging him to quickly resolve the Section 301 trade dispute with China.

“Iowa has spoken with a unified voice on the importance of trade to our state’s farmers and manufacturers,” said Naig. “There are real challenges in our trade relationship with China, but the consequences of an ongoing dispute are equally real and would disproportionally impact our state’s farmers. It is critically important the administration moves quickly to resolve these issues.”

The letter seeks a resolution to the dispute in “a way that protects farmers, manufacturers and our state’s economy.”

“China is an extremely important market for our state. One-third of our state’s $5 billion soybean crop is exported to China. The U.S. exports more than $1 billion of pork to China and Iowa farmers are responsible for 30 percent of our country’s pork production,” the letter read. “The China market was just recently reopened to U.S. beef after more than 15 years of delays and is a tremendous potential market for the 4 million head of cattle being cared for in our state. They continue to raise baseless barriers to poultry trade, to the detriment of Iowa producers. Iowa also leads the nation in corn and ethanol production, both now facing additional trade barriers.”

The letter stated that many Iowa-based manufacturers have already been adversely affected by the tariffs that have been imposed. “Companies across the state, whether they are large companies with a global footprint or smaller, family-owned businesses, are already being negatively impacted.”

“We recognize there are challenges to our trade relationship with China, including but not limited to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection and biotech trait approval delays. China has proven to be a bad actor on numerous occasions and we support the Administration’s commitment to ensuring fair access for our products and fair treatment for our businesses.

“However, the potential negative impact on Iowa would be dramatic if this dispute with China is not resolved quickly. In the short-term, we face volatility and uncertainty in our commodity markets. Longer-term, we risk losing market share and damaging this important trade relationship that we have spent decades building.

“In addition, the potential damage to export markets comes at a particularly difficult time for our agricultural economy, with depressed commodity prices already adding uncertainty for farmers as they head into the 2018 planting season. Any new trade barriers would create additional hurdles to improving agricultural profitability.

“The state of Iowa is a globally-recognized, highly productive agricultural state that depends on open access to international markets. We urge you to resolve this trade dispute swiftly and in a manner that does not put Iowa farmers and manufacturers in the crosshairs. Our people and our economy depend on it.”

Iowa Pork Producers Association CEO Pat McGonegle was among the ag leaders signing the letter.