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Senators talk about China's retaliation against American Ag Products



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A group of five farm state senators returned from china and korea yesterday with first hand perspective on two critical us trade relationships. RFD’s Sarah Mock reports from capitol hill.

In Asia this week senators focused not only on concerns about retaliation against american Ag, but on protecting us farmers and other companies from unfair treatment abroad.

“A major challenge for the us is how to address the multiple non-tariff trade barriers working against our interests, when so often they occur in ways that do not technically trigger world trade organization rules.”

Grassley and four other farm state senators met with former iowa governor and current us ambassador to china terry branstad as well as with chinese officials. he says the meetings were cordial, though not always productive.

“They didn’t say that there weren’t people in china stealing intellectual property, violating patents and trademarks. They didn’t say there wasn’t any of that going on. They were adamant that there are no government policies to promote and encourage that. and as far as I’m concerned, that’s an outright lie.”

Despite real concerns about intellectual property and technology transfer, grassley says dischord in american politics is also to blame for retaliations against ag. Congress could change the 1960s law that gives the president the power to institute tariffs, but Grassley says he doubts there would be enough congressional support for that change.

“You do, in a sense, say yes, because the president is in the driver's seat on this. All we can do is let him know how we feel about it, and i think at least republicans have made strong points of view to the president, I think too many democrats are in favor of what’s the president’s doing.”

Experts say Ag should be looking to the future, and that a focus on solving the underlying problem of china’s failure to enforce intellectual property rights protection, rather than worrying about possible impacts, is most useful.

“The tariffs are the first set of measures, the question is, what is the strategy or the plan that comes after it to be able to turn trade back to a more normal and more open course. the real question is, how do we get away from a situation where those tariffs might persist for a long time.”

When he asked about retaliations, specifically in response to forthcoming tariffs to be announced by the us trade representative, grassley says chinese officials did not mention any us ag product directly… but said only that they will retaliate in kind. For RFDTV, I’m Sarah Mock in Washington.

Though Senator Grassley did feel that a legislative change might not be a workable strategy for preventing tariffs from the white house, he says he and his colleagues are working to empower the treasury’s commission on foreign investment, which may, in future, be able to step in and prevent action on trade issues that affect us businesses.

Sen Chuck Grassley
Darci Vetter, Former Us Chief Ag Negotiator