21 May 2017 - My Thoughts on Trade

Agricultural trade agreements have certainly been in the spotlight since before and after the election. President Trump has said he wants to do away with all of our trade agreements like NAFTA that has benefited agricultural trade between us and Mexico and Canada, and renegotiate trade agreements with individual countries. It is no surprise that farmers and ranchers and their organizations reacted very negatively to that idea. So I found it interesting to see how Mr. Trump handled the NAFTA situation a few weeks ago.

Word leaked from the White House that he was preparing an executive order to pull out of NAFTA entirely. There was a storm of protests from agricultural groups and commodity groups across the nation. So, the following morning after that leak from the White House, President Trump said “ We will renegotiate NAFTA”. He didn’t say we would pull out.

This makes me wonder, if as a businessman who is always negotiating to get things done, he uses these “leaks” out of the White House to get a reaction from across the country and then tones down his statements to fit that reaction. So, I will be watching with interest to see what actually happens with the “renegotiation” of NAFTA, which President Bill Clinton put in place 30 years ago.

Adding to that, I found it interesting to see the statement issued by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue a few days ago and I am sure he is speaking for the President. Let me share the Secretary’s statement - “While NAFTA has been an overall positive for American agriculture, any trade deal can always be improved. As President Trump moves forward with renegotiating with Canada and Mexico, I am confident this will result in a better deal for our farmers, ranchers, foresters and producers. When the rules are fair and the playing field is level, U. S. agriculture will succeed and lead the world. It’s why we recently announced the creation of an Undersecretary for Trade at USDA, because as world markets expand, we will be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.”

One thing to keep in mind. Crafting any kind of a trade agreement is like watching paint dry, it can take forever.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.