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Iowa Senators Urge Biden to Forcefully Engage on Trade Issues

After Biden largely ignored trade during first year, Grassley and Ernst demand immediate action to counter growing Chinese influence, provide farmers with needed certainty

Today, Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst sent a letter to President Biden, urging the administration to begin tackling trade challenges and to seek new trade agreements in the Indo-Pacific region.

Initially, the Biden administration announced it would be prioritizing domestic policy before considering negotiations on new free trade agreements. However, as Grassley and Ernst note, Iowa farmers and our trade partners in the Indo-Pacific region cannot continue waiting – especially now that Biden’s domestic agenda has stalled.

“China is taking serious action to expand their foothold in the region. One way to counter China’s influence is to begin and complete free-trade agreements on a multi-lateral, regional or bilateral basis. This includes a serious look at joining the CPTPP. The U.S. must step up and again take a leadership role on expanding free trade. As you know, trade enables us to engage economically with consumers worldwide, which is crucial since 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S. It would be extremely painful for U.S. exporters, including farmers in our home state, to see us sit on the sidelines and watch China take the lead in the Indo-Pacific region,” Grassley and Ernst wrote.

Last fall, China formally applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Now that the Phase One agreement with China has ended, Grassley and Ernst argue that failing to engage in additional trade agreement options – like the CPTPP – could put our country at risk of losing crucial market access to the Chinese.

“Iowa agriculture and ag-related industries supported nearly 400,000 jobs in 2019 and $22.2 billion in household income. We are at a critical moment in determining the future of agriculture trade, and we urge your administration to forcefully reengage in talks for new trade agreements; further engage with China to hold them accountable; and, give certainty to our farmers that their products will continue to be sold to our trading partners across the world,” the senators concluded.

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