Sasse warns Trump’s Trade Council of threat to Neb. corn | TSLN.com

Sasse warns Trump’s Trade Council of threat to Neb. corn

February 17, 2017

"Nebraska farmers cannot become collateral damage in a trade war. Mexico is currently one of the biggest importers of Nebraska corn."

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, the chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance, wrote to President Trump's new National Trade Council, warning about "troubling developments that threaten U.S. corn exports to Mexico." The full text of Senator Sasse's letter is found below.

Dr. Peter Navarro

Assistant to the President

Director of Trade and Industrial Policy

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U.S. National Trade Council

Dear Dr. Navarro:

As the Trump Administration negotiates trade deals on behalf of the United States, it is critical that Nebraska producers are able to continue competing in world markets. I would like to call your attention to troubling developments that threaten U.S. corn exports to Mexico.

Over the last few days, Mexican officials have taken several steps to suggest Mexico may begin to import less corn from the U.S. and more from other nations. In explaining these steps, officials cite the possible re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the perception that Mexican citizens are not being respected.

Earlier this week, Mexican Senator Armando Rios Piter announced his plans to introduce legislation cutting off all U.S. corn purchases and instead purchase the commodity from Brazil and Argentina.[1] He said, "I'm going to send a bill for the corn that we are buying in the Midwest and…change to Brazil or Argentina," adding it would be a "good way to tell them that this hostile relationship has consequences, hope that it changes."[2]

Then yesterday, Mexico's Agriculture Secretary Jose Calzada said that, in light of possible changes to NAFTA, he will lead a trip to Brazil and Argentina to purchase corn. "It's not a trip to open relationships or of goodwill, it's a trip to do deals," noted Secretary Calzada.[3]

In short, these steps appear to be clear pre-emptive efforts by Mexico to retaliate against the U.S. by hurting our corn exporters. I would strongly urge the administration to act immediately to prevent any lasting damage to Nebraska agriculture exports by demonstrating that Mexico will continue to be a valued trading partner and that future negotiations will be conducted in good faith. It is the job of the federal government to help open markets around the world without losing the gains we have already made.

Nebraska farmers cannot become collateral damage in a trade war. Mexico is currently one of the biggest importers of Nebraska corn. In 2014, 17 percent of Nebraska's corn was exported to Mexico, which under NAFTA can be shipped there without any tariff or quota. It is a special point of pride for Nebraskans that our corn is in such high demand for its quality, which is all facilitated by a strong free trade agreement.

This administration should take careful steps not to threaten the gains achieved by Nebraska corn growers. This includes helping our trade partners understand the benefits of a strong relationship with the United States.

I look forward to working with you to protect and create overseas markets for U.S. agriculture.

Sincerely,

Ben Sasse

–Senator Sasse