USMCA, China ‘phase one’ deal leave MFU hopeful, but follow-through needed for progress
Jan. 16, 2020
Today, the U.S. Senate passed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the agreement negotiated to replace the previous North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and sent it to President Trump’s desk. This came one day after Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed their “phase one” trade agreement promising that China would increase its purchases of U.S. agriculture, prompting the president to proclaim that farmers are going to need bigger tractors.
Both agreements are positive signs toward normalizing U.S. trade relations around the globe, which the president has seriously damaged with the reckless use of tariffs.
“I’m glad to see USMCA and the China deal getting finalized, as they provide more certainty to our family farmers,” said Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) President Gary Wertish. “However, there’s much remaining to be seen on how much these deals will benefit us. China has agreed to purchase $40-50 billion in agricultural products annually. But the parties haven’t revealed purchase benchmarks for individual commodities, nor have the U.S. or China publicly committed to specific tariff reductions. They need to follow through on actual shipments of ag products before we can believe their promises.”
Both Minnesota senators, Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar, voted “yes” on USMCA. Smith announced her support for the agreement last weekend while visiting the Foley dairy farm of MFU members Carol and Steve Anderson.
“On behalf of MFU members, I thank Senators Smith and Klobuchar for their support on this issue,” President Wertish said. “As Sen. Smith said at the Anderson farm, this deal isn’t going to be ‘earth-shattering,’ but it does make modest improvements from NAFTA.
“With these trade deals, I’m more hopeful that we are getting back to being a reliable trade partner. But there’s a long way to go and much that could still happen in phase two. Trade deals are an important part of getting family farmers a fair price for their products. We urge the negotiators to keep that in mind.”
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Minnesota Farmers Union—Standing for Agriculture, Working for Farmers (www.mfu.org)