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06 August 2016 - The Trade Agreement Fight Needs Your Voice

The ongoing, strong opposition to trade agreements expressed by both candidates, Republican and Democrat, continues to bother me a great deal, because U.S. agriculture depends on trade.

Here is the current situation - when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, she supported the 12-member Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement; now that she is running for President, she is opposed, saying that it should be renegotiated. She should know it cannot be renegotiated because after years of deliberation when the countries signed off a few months ago, the agreement was it would go back to their countries for ratification, no changes, just a Yes or No vote.

Then there is Donald Trump - who is against anything that looks like a trade agreement, or so it seems, strongly opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement. Furthermore, he would like to tear apart the 30-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement - NAFTA that has worked successfully to promote trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Now, there is a third party involved who would like to see the Trans-Pacific agreement signed, President Barack Obama. Just this past week he strongly promoted the trade deal when he welcomed Singapore’s Prime Minister to the White House. Singapore has already approved the agreement and President Obama, despite the opposition from his own party’s candidates, said he would work very hard to get approval here in the U.S. He sees the 12-nation trade agreement as a central part of his economic and foreign policy legacy, and he wants to sign it before he leaves the White House on January 20th.

Congressional leaders though, are pessimistic about the odds of ratifying the deal during the short session in September or during the brief lame-duck session after the November 8th election. And just recently House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would not even bring it to the floor because there are not enough votes to approve it. He said there is no reason to call for a vote knowing it will go down to defeat.

The controversy sets up yet another strange situation in what is already the strangest campaign I have see in my 60 years of presidential elections. President Obama wants the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement; his party does not. How do you handle that?

Despite all the opposition, maybe the fight isn’t over yet. If you feel strongly about the importance of trade to the agricultural economy and, more importantly, to the total U.S. economy, make a point to discuss the issue with your House members and Senators. It’s August recess time and they will all be back home asking for your vote.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.