February 26, 2019
AVENTURA, Fla. — The Trump administration wants China to promise to buy a broad range of agricultural commodities, not just soybeans, in the trade negotiation that is underway, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Steve Censky said here today.
"We want some robust purchase commitments from China," Censky said at the International Sweetener Colloquium, a gathering of sweetener users here.
Censky said that means China should fulfill its commitments under the tariff rate quota system to buy other commodities and also U.S. meat and pet food.
The United States also expects China to improve its biotechnology approval system. "In the past it has taken a presidential summit to get biotech approvals," he said.
The engagement with China is a "tough, but promising negotiation," Censky said.
But he also said that achieving a good agreement on agriculture is not enough to win the administration's backing. He said China has to agree to make changes to its system of technology transfer and not force U.S. companies to transfer their technology or take on a Chinese partner who, in effect, steals U.S. knowledge.
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Censky also told the candy company executives and others in the sweetener industry there is "a lot of work ahead to get the USMCA [the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement] passed. We need your help."
He noted that the Agriculture Department is advocating within the administration for the removal of the tariffs on Mexican and Canadian steel. Agriculture leaders have said the tariffs have led to retaliatory tariffs that have diminished their exports, and that the provisions in the USMCA will be meaningless if the tariffs are not removed.
Censky also noted that Larry Kudlow, the director of the White House National Economic Council, has said he expects the tariffs to be removed.
Censky also said he thinks the expected negotiations with Japan will be "great news for agriculture." He noted that U.S. agreements with Japan have "always" been "the crown jewel of U.S. trade negotiations," and that most of the gains under the Trans Pacific Partnership proposal from which President Donald Trump withdrew would have been in increased access to the Japanese market.
In the upcoming negotiations with Japan, Censky said, the Trump administration wants "at least" what the United States would have gotten if it stayed in TPP.
Negotiations with the European Union are slower because the United States has pushed for agriculture to be included in the agreement, which the EU has resisted, he said. But Censky said he believes agriculture must be included for Congress to approve an EU agreement
The Trump administration would also like to achieve a new agricultural trade relationship with the United Kingdom if and when it leaves the European Union, but that relationship depends on the arrangements under which the U.K. leaves the EU, he said.
The Agriculture Department will release its farm bill implementation schedule later this week, he said, with implementation of the new dairy program a top priority.
–The Hagstrom Report