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Farmers for Free Trade asks value of IPEF without tariff reduction

The Fence Post | 24 May 2022

Farmers for Free Trade asks value of IPEF without tariff reduction

Farmers for Free Trade, a lobbying organization that has been pushing the Biden administration to be more aggressive in starting trade negotiations, asked Monday how the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) that President Biden launched Monday will benefit farmers, since it does not contain any tariff reduction goal.

Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade, said in a news release, “American farmers have long looked to the Indo-Pacific as an essential market for growing American food and ag exports.”

“As the populations in the region grow in numbers and prosperity, they look to American farmers for protein, high-quality produce, and other food and ag products. To take advantage of this generational opportunity, we need to knock down barriers to trade and position ourselves as a viable alternative to Chinese dominance in the region.

“Farmers continue to feel the sting of recent American trade policy that has erected rather than reduced trade barriers — both with the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a barrage of tariffs that have targeted farmers over the past four years.”

Kuehl added, “The Indo Pacific Economic Framework is a laudable first step to reengaging in the region. However, it will be essential that the administration articulate how an agreement that does not currently include tariff reduction will provide new market access and economic opportunities for farmers”

“As negotiations progress, we encourage the administration to speak directly to farmers, food producers, and rural Americans about how IPEF can directly benefit them. Opening engagement in the Indo-Pacific region is a positive sign, closing out an agreement that gives American farmers expanded market access must be the goal,” Kuehl said.

Farm groups have previously said that reductions in the agricultural tariffs imposed by other countries are vital to trade agreements that will benefit American farmers, but neither the American Farm Bureau Federation nor the U.S. Grains Council mentioned the absence of tariff reduction goals in their statements on the framework.

The U.S. Grains Council, which promotes the export of feed grains, said Monday, “The announcement of the new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework is a welcomed development that represents a new opportunity for the U.S. to strengthen economic ties with 12 other countries that collectively make up 40% of the world’s GDP.”

“The IPEF is a new approach to trade negotiations that will hopefully still create the same positive, high-standard outcomes for U.S. farmers as traditional trade agreements,” said USGC President and CEO Ryan LeGrand.

“We look forward to engaging the office of the U.S. Trade Representative on IPEF negotiations to ensure grain and ethanol can freely move around the world.”

On Monday U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said that the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership, which had tariff reduction goals in it, had failed to gain congressional approval before President Trump withdrew the U.S. from it.

Tai added that the new initiative “will see commitments with IPEF partners that facilitate agricultural trade through science-based decision making and the adoption of sound, transparent regulatory practices. This will help our farmers, our ranchers, and our fishers gain certainty for getting their products to the region.”

 source: The Fence Post