Trade Talks Uncertain. Could Farm Bill Bring Some Relief?

Podcast / Newsline May 15, 2018

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Two separate trade negotiations could conclude just as the farm bill reaches a crucial vote. Micheal Clements has more.

Clements: The Trump administration is continuing its efforts to negotiate a trade deal with China while simultaneously updating the North American Free Trade Agreement. American Farm Bureau Federation Economist Veronica Nigh says President Trump’s move to cut a deal involving a Chinese company previously banned from exporting to the United States could bode well for agriculture.

Nigh: He’s intending to negotiate directly with China’s President to see if we can find a solution on ZTE and find a way to resume trade between China and the United States for this company. In return, perhaps we could talk about China being a little bit softer on ag products and all of these other trade issues that we’re having.

Clements: House Speaker Paul Ryan has set a deadline of May 17 for the NAFTA renegotiations to conclude, just as the farm bill is expected to move to a vote. That would give time for the House of Representatives to vote on the treaty before the President’s trade promotion authority expires on June 30. Nigh says the deadline places added pressure on the talks.

Nigh: The ministers went home at the end of last week that would be necessary to shake on a deal for this potential deadline. So, I think everyone’s just in a wait and see mode to see if the end of the week produces anything. Or, what do the next six months look like if we put the negotiation in the freezer while we all deal with the elections we have going on in our respective countries.

Clements: As trade talks continue, Nigh says the House consideration of the farm bill this week could be a step closer to certainty.

Nigh: All that uncertainty is difficult for farmers to budget for. So, certainly, we’re looking for the farm bill to help in these uncertain times both domestically and internationally. And, you could potentially see a full consideration of the farm bill on the house floor later this week.

Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.

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