Johnson: We Can’t Afford to Lose on Trade
September 19, 2018
A few weeks ago, I proposed a set of measures to help bring a positive conclusion to our trade disputes with China, the European Union, Mexico, and Canada. Our farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers deserve a plan that restores market access to these key trading partners – and quickly. This latest round of tariffs with China furthers our need to re-open markets for South Dakota products.
I opposed starting a trade war. I have been an advocate for free trade for decades. We have the best agricultural producers and manufacturers in the world. We don't need protectionism to compete and succeed on the world stage. Further, free trade helps each and every American consumer, by granting us access to the largest variety of goods to buy at the most competitive prices. That's why I raised concerns over a trade war months ago, before the first tariff increase was ever announced.
However, now that we are in the middle of trade disputes, we should not merely concede defeat. Our producers and consumers cannot afford to lose on trade. Tim Bjorkman, my Democrat opponent, suggested that Congress intervene and withdraw – unilaterally removing our tariffs with no assurances that China would remove theirs. Tim's plan would guarantee that we lose. It undermines our negotiating position, ensures no progress toward a freer, more transparent market, and signals to the international community that it can bring the United States to heel if it merely waits a few months.
Instead of waving the white flag, we must seek strategies that strengthen our position while helping to bring the negotiations to a swift and positive conclusion. I propose increasing our negotiating capacity, ensuring that the Office of the Trade Representative has enough negotiators to move things along quickly on a number of fronts. At the same time, we can strengthen our domestic corn market by urging the EPA to make E15 available year round. This (and other value-added ag programs) will boost commodity prices, today and into the future.
My plan may not be a silver bullet, but the measures I propose would help bring a swift and positive result from a tumultuous trade negotiation. We cannot afford to lose on trade. Our farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers deserve a plan that gives us the best chance at success.
Dusty Johnson is a Republican businessman running for U.S. Congress to rein in federal spending, combat DC dysfunction, and return power to families, businesses, communities and states. He is a former South Dakota Public Utilities Commissioner and former Chief of Staff to Governor Daugaard. Dusty is a husband, a father of three boys and Vice President of a private sector engineering and consulting firm based in Mitchell.