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Grassley Hoping For Results From China Trade Talks

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John Pemble
/
IPR file photo
Sen. Grassley says the trade war with China is partly responsible for the delayed ratification of a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is hopeful about the direction of trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, even after President Trump announced plans to increase tariffs on Chinese imports. Iowa's senior senator said it’s a good sign that negotiators from the two countries are still planning to meet in Washington this week to discuss a potential deal.

“Three months ago I didn’t hold out much hope, except maybe to get them to buy soybeans again,” Grassley said, “And now we’re getting into a whole bunch of structural reforms that are absolutely necessary and the main purpose of the negotiations in the first place.”

Meanwhile, Grassley said, the trade war with China is partly responsible for the delayed ratification of a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, the USMCA. Those countries' legislatures have not signed off on the USMCA because the U.S. has not lifted tariffs on steel and aluminum. Grassley said in a recent meeting, he and other senators urged President Trump to drop the tariffs. Trump declined, even though he supports the agreement as an improvement over NAFTA.

“The president said this is a terribly good deal. Well then why wouldn’t the president want to get it passed?” Grassley said. “When you get down in the weeds with him he’s concerned about the transshipment of steel from China to Canada to the United States.”

The trade talks with China carry high stakes for Iowa farmers who have seen soybean exports to China plummet over the past year.  Grassley said the USMCA agreement would also benefit farmers by increasing exports of corn and pork to Mexico as well as wheat and milk to Canada.