Opinion: New trade agreement deal a loss for U.S. agriculture

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Conventional wisdom from some pundits when the POTUS followed through on his campaign promise to withdraw from Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations was that the deal would die without U.S. leadership.

Well, not only did the deal NOT die, but a new deal – the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) –  was inked last month by the remaining nations:   Brunei, Chile, Australia, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam.

The 11 nations together account for about 15 percent of global trade.

When I heard of the signing, the 1977 Fleetwood Mac mega hit “Go Your Own Way” came quickly to mind:

You can go your own way
Go your own way
You can call it
Another lonely day
You can go your own way
Go your own way

Because it’s clear that Asia-Pacific nations sent U.S. trade negotiators the message that they are willing and able to step in and fill the America trade void.

Let’s pull no punches here.  As the U.S. withdraws from what is becoming a world-wide multilateral trading system in favor of defensive bilateral trade agreements of relatively low ambition and scope, U.S. agricultural interests will suffer.

Ask any U.S. hog farmer or wheat producer what was lost in the TPP pullout and you’ll get an earful.

None of the CPTPP signers are, at the moment, itching to seriously negotiate with the U.S. on a bi-lateral deal.

Nor are CPTPP participants waiting on Washington to move forward with the ratification process hoping to complete the deal by December rather than in the original 2019 target.

The new agreement will take effect 60 days after six members ratify the deal.

And at least seven other nations — South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Colombia and the U.K — have expressed interest in joining the CPTPP party.

The CPTPP is becoming a reality because it specifically combats the rising tide of U.S. protectionism while enhancing global supply chains.

And that, unfortunately, is not possible through signing bilateral deals with the U.S.

About Dave Dickey

Dave Dickey

Dickey spent nearly 30 years at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s NPR member station WILL-AM 580 where he won a dozen Associated Press awards for his reporting. For 13 years, he directed Illinois Public Media’s agriculture programming. His weekly column for Big Ag Watch covers agriculture and related issues including politics, government, environment and labor. Email him at dave.dickey@investigatemidwest.org.

This column reflects the writer’s own opinions and not those of Big Ag Watch.

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