More agreements needed to open markets and strengthen trade relationships

By Rep. Dan Newhouse

Recently, I sat down with President Trump and members of Congress at the White House to discuss the impact of trade on agriculture in Central Washington. China’s and other nations’ retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products are having a major impact on growers and producers in our state. In our meeting, I brought up the challenges of Central Washington cherry-growers as one example of export-reliant agriculture that have been paying the price for rising tension. China is the No. 1 customer for Washington state’s cherries and our producers are being hit hard, showing the need for a timely resolution.

Just before our meeting, the president made an announcement that illustrates a path forward for much-needed progress on trade. I was in the Rose Garden as President Trump and the European Commission president announced an agreement to avoid a trade war. The EU is the United States’ biggest trading partner, and together we represent 50 percent of world’s Gross Domestic Product and a $1 trillion bilateral trade relationship, so lowering tensions is in the best interests of both parties.

During the joint announcement President Trump said, “We want to further strengthen this trade relationship to the benefit of all American and European citizens. This is why we agreed today, first of all, to work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods.”

The president went on to focus on work to open markets for farmers and ensure trade between the EU and U.S. is made “fairer and more reciprocal.” This president is working to level the playing field as no one has done before to address unfair trading practices.

The agreement to reexamine plans for additional tariffs and put existing tariffs on hold while trade talks continue with the EU will go a long way to rebuilding confidence with global trading partners, and the sooner the better. Farmers I have spoken with in Central Washington are willing to give the president room to strengthen the U.S. hand on trade, but they are anxious for a resolution as soon as possible. Many farmers are supportive of ensuring our trading partners play by the rules. It has been difficult, and it will take time, but President Trump’s goal is to strengthen America’s hand on trade to make it free and fair in order to increase exports.

The Trump administration also announced $12 billion to mitigate the impact of retaliatory tariffs on agriculture producers, showing that the Trump administration is working as promised on ways to support farmers. The administration is evaluating how those funds are to be allocated. While appreciated, no amount of short-term support can be as beneficial as having markets reopened quickly and a level playing field to export American products. The long-term success for the American agriculture sector hinges on strong trading relationships, open access to worldwide markets, and reciprocal trade.

America can be strong on trade by defending our interests while maintaining our export markets. The EU announcement shows that the president is getting results. I stand ready to work with the president to strengthen relationships with our other trading partners as expeditiously as possible.

 

Dan Newhouse is a representative in the 4th Congressional District of Washington.