Grassley talks trade: China, Brazil, Argentina, France
In a call to reporters today, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, addressed a range of trade issues that have come up in recent days.
Grassley said he believes Chinese officials have been trying to convince Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to travel to Beijing for more negotiations, but that the Trump administration officials are reluctant to make the trip unless they are sure it will result in “finality” for “phase one” of an agreement between the United States and China.
Grassley did not comment directly on President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would impose tariffs on Brazilian and Argentine steel because those countries have been manipulating their currency to the disadvantage of American farmers.
But Grassley did say “we’ve got reason to believe that maybe they are actually just the opposite — they are doing everything they can to prop up their currency by selling dollars.”
He also said he believes market forces will dictate China will buy (agricultural commodities) from Brazil or Argentina.
On Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on French products due to its proposed digital services tax, Grassley noted that he and Senate Finance ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said yesterday they agree that the French tax is unreasonable. Grassley said he supports retaliatory tariffs on French products but hopes that the threat will cause the French to “wake up.”
On the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade, Grassley said he is optimistic about the House taking up the bill this year because Canadian and Mexican negotiators have been talking to Lighthizer in addition to Lighthizer’s conversations with House Democrats.
But he also said that there has to be agreement this week for both the House and Senate to take it up before the end of the year.
Grassley said he expects the Senate to leave on Dec. 19, but that if the House approves USMCA after that date the Senate could take it up when the chamber returns on Jan. 6.
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I have been rather preoccupied lately and haven’t been writing my editor’s note. So, for those who have called and emailed to make sure I’m still on this Earth, I’m still here.