Grassley, Ernst: Iowa trade to be protected in NAFTA renegotiation

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Grassley, Ernst: Iowa trade to be protected in NAFTA renegotiation

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By Maria Curi

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WASHINGTON – Several hours before participating in a Senate Finance Committee hearing on March 14 to consider the nomination of Robert Lighthizer to be the U.S. Trade Representative, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in an interview with The Daily Iowan recalled a meeting with National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro.

“When we had a meeting with him, I said, ‘One thing you want to remember, if someone is mad at the United States because of something we’ve done for trade, usually agriculture is the first one hurt,’ ” Grassley said. “And so, you know, the message was: Be cautious when you’re renegotiating.”

One protectionist trade policy President Trump promised in his campaign was the renegotiation of NAFTA. Although it is unclear what exactly will be renegotiated, benefactors of the trade agreement include agriculture states such as Iowa, which now face the risk of losing export opportunities to Mexico and Canada.

According to the International Trade Administration, Iowa’s top two export markets are Canada, which imported $3.351 million worth of goods in 2016, and Mexico, which imported $2.306 million the same year.

Lighthizer, who served as deputy trade representative under former President Ronald Reagan, said the way to move the economy forward is through exports.

“I realize the anxiety and concern [for agriculture], but there’s a general consensus that NAFTA needs revision; it’s clearly outdated,” Lighthizer said during the hearing.

In an interview with the DI on March 14, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said she intends to push heavily to ensure that Iowa has a large voice in any NAFTA renegotiation.

“There are those that would argue NAFTA has been very difficult for many of our states, but for Iowa, when you look at the agricultural component of it, it has been very, very beneficial,” Ernst said. “We are a net export state, and so Canada and Mexico are very important to us as trade partners, and I’ll continue to push that with the Trump administration.”

Traditionally, the U.S. Trade Representative has been the leader in trade negotiations, but with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ heavy involvement in the NAFTA renegotiation and President Trump’s creation of the National Trade Council, it is unclear what the new hierarchy of American trade policy will be.

 

Editor’s Note: This story is still developing 

 

 

 

 

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