Wicker Highlights Path Ahead for Trade

The Stakes are High for Global Commerce

June 3, 2019

The United States has less than five percent of the world’s population. Yet Americans produce more than 20 percent of global economic output. We sell those goods and services to one another, but we also trade them with the 95 percent of consumers who live outside our country, creating economic growth, investment, and jobs right here at home.

Mississippi is a leader in trade. Last year our state exported almost $12 billion of Made-in-America goods. These exports supported over 51,000 Mississippi jobs. Trade has benefited our economy, but unfair and outdated trading policies have hurt some of our most productive sectors. 

One of President Trump’s top priorities has been getting trade deals right, renegotiating the 25-year-old NAFTA agreement and standing up to China’s corruption of global supply chains. Since the Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, I am actively working with the executive branch to ensure ongoing trade negotiations will benefit all Americans.

Progress and Perils Ahead

There has already been significant progress to improve America’s position in the global trading system. Under the NAFTA agreement, American-made dairy, eggs, and poultry products have increasingly been disadvantaged, hurting Mississippi farmers. I am hopeful Congress will fix this and other flaws by approving the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). This deal would bring many benefits to American exporters, including improved market access for our agricultural sector. Meanwhile, Mississippi has a $526 million trading relationship with Japan, and President Trump’s negotiations to open that country’s famously closed beef markets to America’s ranchers will only strengthen those ties. Also, thanks to a recent determination by the International Trade Administration, Vietnamese frozen catfish fillet exporters are going to face stiffer penalties for dumping their products on American consumers.

While these are victories, some countries still take advantage of the markets to harm American exporters and undercut our economy. China violates the terms of international trade in a variety of ways, including by stealing intellectual property and innovations and improperly subsidizing nearly every sector of its economy. USMCA’s strengthening of copyright and patent protections should be a signal to the Chinese government of our seriousness about safeguarding American ingenuity.

The current tariffs between the U.S. and China are causing pain on both sides of the Pacific, especially for our farmers. Congress can help, and I was glad to give certainty to the agricultural sector by voting for the farm bill in December. Congress and President Trump are working to bolster farmers further during negotiations with China by using tariff revenue from Chinese imports to offset potential losses for domestic exporters. The Secretary of Agriculture recently approved a $16 billion aid program for this very purpose.

Americans Deserve a Level Playing Field 

Americans succeed where the playing field is level and when there are clear rules of the road. We have seen this here at home with the economic growth Republicans unleashed through regulatory rollbacks and tax reform. Improved trade deals will bring that success to the international stage.

Better deals will mean more ships flowing in and out of Mississippi ports; those ships will carry more goods; those goods will be made in our factories and come from our fields; and those manufacturers and farmers will create more jobs for Americans ready and willing to work. The potential rewards are worth the effort to get this right.