February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the
National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.
They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

I know that the battle over how much we spend and what we spend the money on in the $1.9
trillion Relief Bill will dominate our Congress. But I want to talk about trade now. In
agriculture we are expecting a good year after 4 or 5 years of weak prices. Since we export to
other nations at least 25% of our production, we need to protect and expand those markets. Our
ag trade is usually a net plus, but U.S. over all trade ran a $678 billion deficit last year – the
worst in 12 years. The reality is that trade relations are fractured. Our conflicts and disputes
with China over the last 4 years have been in the headlines and although President Trump did
negotiate a phase one deal with China, that is not the complete answer. We are in a major
conflict on trade with the EU and other nations also.

President Trump used tariffs to get other countries to make reforms that were needed, but tariffs are not the best solution. Countries all over the world are unhappy and frustrated that trade disputes are not resolved. 164 countries belong to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO has shouldered broad criticism because it has been slow and unable to solve trade disputes between member countries. Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said, “Above all we need to restore the WTO as a forum for meaningful trade negotiations and the settlement of commercial disputes.” Now is our chance.

A new WTO Director-General has been selected. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former Finance
Minister of Nigeria, starts March 1 st to reform, strengthen, and manage the WTO. She will have
a load on her shoulders. The WTO members must stand behind her or she will get nothing done.
It is especially essential that the US, China, Europe, the UK, Brazil, and other big export
countries take the lead in fixing the broken WTO. President Biden wants to take a more
multilateral approach to trade – more trade agreements. He wants to join with Europe to push
Chinese trade reform. However, at this point President Biden is not ready to lift the Trump
tariffs. We shall see.

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