Supporters of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement have been pushing for some time to see a summer vote on the deal. They’d like Congress to ratify the deal before they head off on their August recess. However, House Democrats say they’re not in a hurry to hold a vote.
That pre-recess legislative window is getting closer to slamming shut. Politico says Democratic lawmakers have said for some time that a summer deadline to pass the agreement wasn’t realistic. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s nine-member working group is holding meetings with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to address potential changes to the agreement.
As a result, some aides think that there may still be a chance to get the deal ratified in 2019. One aide tells Politico that a September vote is possible, depending on how far Lighthizer can or is willing to go to address Democrat concerns on enforcement, labor, environment, and drug pricing provisions in the deal. Many legislators, officials, and industry observers in Washington agree that once the presidential election year begins, the chances of ratifying USMCA will plummet.
Now that President Trump and Chinese President Jinping have agreed to a temporary trade truce, Trump says China has promised to buy large amounts of ag products from U.S. farmers.
A Politico report looked into what products that shopping list might include. Soybeans are likely to be on top of the list. Soybean farmers have been hit hardest by Trump’s trade war because China was once the top export market for U.S. soybeans. Beijing bought another 544,000 metric tons last week, its largest buy since March. Pork might be another key item on the list as pork producers have also been hit hard by the trade feuds, especially with China and Mexico.
As African Swine Fever continues to ravage China’s once-giant herds, Beijing could now turn to U.S. hog farmers to fill in the country’s appetite for protein. Politico also says that ethanol exports to China could potentially grow. That would help ease some pressure on corn growers and biofuel producers, a key constituency that’s complained the administration’s trade policies are harming demand for ethanol.
The only question is that China doesn’t maintain government reserves of ethanol and the tariffs are currently prohibitive. As of right now, there isn’t a lot of space for China to buy up huge amounts of the biofuel.
Australia’s trade minister Simon Birmingham weighed in on the truce struck over the weekend between the U.S. and China. Birmingham says the Australian government will be watching “very closely” to make sure the truce doesn’t put the squeeze on Australian ag exports.
The Guardian Dot Com says presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping reached a “ceasefire” in a conflict that continues to threaten global economic growth. One of the things Trump mentioned first after the ceasefire was announced over the weekend was that China had agreed to buy a “tremendous amount of food and agricultural products from American farmers.”
The Australian trade minister was in Osaka, Japan, for the G-20 and said the deal between Washington and Beijing must be compliant with World Trade Organization rules, allowing Australian farmers to compete with other exporters on fair terms. Birmingham said taking a “long-term perspective,” he felt it was good news that Trump and Xi appeared to be toning down the trade hostilities between the two countries. “However, we’ll be keeping an eye on the detail and monitoring the situation closely,” he said.
The U.S. and China have agreed to forgo the next round of tariffs that President Trump threatened to impose on $300 billion in Chinese goods.
That report comes from both Politico and the South China Morning Post. It comes ahead of a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping this weekend at the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan. One source tells the South China Morning Post that Trump’s decision to temporarily halt raising tariffs on more Chinese goods was President Xi’s price for agreeing to meet with him in Japan. It’s well known that agriculture has been one of the hardest-hit economic sectors by Trump’s trade dispute with China. Other countries have responded to American tariffs on imports by trying to exert pressure on a big part of the electorate that ultimately helped Trump win the presidency.
Also on the trade front, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer made a pre-Japan visit down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., this week to get some more face time with House Democrats before heading overseas for the G-20 gathering. Trump’s trade boss left Democrats feeling more optimistic about getting their concerns with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement resolved
President Trump tweeted late Friday that he’d suspended plans to impose tariffs on Mexican goods, saying the U.S. and Mexico had reached an agreement on stemming illegal immigration.
The president says Mexican officials “agreed to take strong measures” to cut down on the flow of illegal immigrants traveling through Mexico and entering the U.S. An Associated Press report says the move puts to an end a threat that had sparked warnings from members of Trumps party, as well as administration officials, about long-term damage to the economy.
The damage would include driving up prices for consumers, as well as put the recently-updated U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement in jeopardy. U.S. and Mexican officials met for more than 10 hours on Friday and ended a third day of talks with an agreement that would satisfy Trump’s demand that Mexico crack down on illegal immigration into the U.S.
Republicans in Congress had recently warned the president that they were ready to try and stop imposing tariffs on Mexico that were scheduled to begin on Monday. They were worried about driving up costs to consumers and the damage to the economy.