“Market Access”—a theme that won’t go away for USDA officials confronted routinely on the topic by lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
South Dakota’s John Thune challenged USDA Trade Undersecretary Alexis Taylor to defend developing deals like the Biden Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
Thune; “Undersecretary Taylor, as I’ve previously mentioned to you, I’m concerned by this administration’s lack of attention to expanding market access for U.S. agricultural products. I am hopeful that we will see successful access there (Indo-Pacific Economic Framework), addressing SPS and non-tariff barriers to knock down some trade barriers that we currently experience.”
But it’s tariffs, and steep ones, that Thune and other farm-state lawmakers are concerned about as U.S. competitors do their own trade deals.
Thune; “IPEF didn’t address market access, which is what our producers in South Dakota are looking for, and free trade agreements with countries in that region of the world or free trade agreements with other countries around the world, some that are what we think are ‘low-hanging fruit.’ It just seems like the administration—no requests for Trade Promotion Authority…hasn’t been an FTA done. You guys got to step up your game here, and I hope you will.”
But Taylor, USTR Chief Ag Negotiator Doug McKalip, and his boss Katherine Tai all take their marching orders from the top, and those orders repeatedly show a president unwilling to do politically tough free trade deals.