EU says no to ag talks, Grassley, Trump keep up pressure
-The Hagstrom Report
The European Union Council on Monday approved a mandate for the European Commission to exclude agriculture from trade talks with the United States, but Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and President Donald Trump kept up the pressure for agriculture to be included.
In a news release, the European Council said it had had approved a mandate for negotiations on “a trade agreement limited to the elimination of tariffs for industrial goods only, excluding agricultural products.”
Grassley said in a statement that a deal without agriculture would have a hard time getting congressional approval.
“The U.S.-E.U. trade relationship is a significant one,” Grassley said in a news release. “The decisions made in any bilateral agreement between the U.S. and E.U. impact economies around the world. With so much at stake, it’s important to get it right.”
“Elimination of industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers only get us part of the way there, especially when we face major barriers to agricultural trade in the E.U. Agriculture is a significant piece of the global economy and it simply doesn’t make sense to leave it out.
“Any deal that eliminates tariffs will need to get congressional approval. Bipartisan members of the Senate and the House of Representatives have voiced their objections to a deal without agriculture, making it unlikely that any such deal would pass Congress,” Grassley said.
Trump, at a combined business roundtable and campaign event in Burnsville, Minn., said, “We’re in massive trade negotiations, as you know, because our farmers haven’t been treated properly for many years.”
Trump said that U.S. farmers and ranchers “haven’t been treated by the people that sat in this seat — the presidents and the representatives of the presidents — because other countries have taken advantage of us, if you look at the European Union with the barriers they have to agricultural products and cars and so many other things. ”
“But the agricultural products — they barely take our agriculture products,” Trump said. “And yet, they can sell Mercedes-Benz and they can sell anything they want in our country, including their farm products. And it’s not fair. And those days are changing rapidly. They understand it.”
“We had, on average, a loss of $160 billion a year with the European nations. If you look at Europe and take a look at what’s going on with Europe and how badly we’ve been treated for so many years. And I talk to them and I say, ‘Fellas, it has to change. Has to change.’
“And, you know, I said, frankly, ‘Look, if it doesn’t change, we’re going to tariff all of your cars and everything else that comes in. You can’t treat our farmers that way. You can’t treat our people that way.’ And I think you’re going to be very happy. You’ll be very happy.”
Trump devoted most of his presentation in Minnesota to non-agricultural business development, primarily heavy industry in the Iron Range section of the state.
He also said that Republicans had virtually eliminated the “unfair estate tax, or death tax. We eliminated it for small business and small farm.”
Even with agriculture left out, France and Belgium said they would not support the negotiations, The New York Times reported.