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Progress with China

January 21, 2020

This week a number of my colleagues, Senator Fischer and I, had the honor of attending President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signing a phase one trade agreement between our nations. While we know there is much more work to be done, we should celebrate what the President and his economic team accomplished in addressing longtime Chinese practices while opening new economic opportunities for Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers.


China has been a economic bad-actor on many fronts: currency manipulation, stealing intellectual property, and subsidizing the dumping of goods below productions costs, among them. This dispute has been going on for many years, and President Trump has made it a priority to address it. Although I am no fan of tariffs, the President has held China accountable for their unfair trade practices.


China’s unfair technology transfer practices are a threat to American innovation. Because of the importance of the intellectual property concerns, phase one includes a commitment from China to stop forcing manufacturers to surrender their trade secrets, and instead requires them to respect market practices like the rest of the world. 


Perhaps one of the most important provisions in phase one is China agreeing to purchase almost $40 billion in U.S. agricultural goods. Expanding trade access in Chinese markets is a significant boost to Nebraska producers and presents enormous opportunity for Nebraska agriculture. Nebraska’s Third District, the number one agriculture producing district in America, would greatly benefit from selling our goods to the world’s most populous country, and it is an opportunity we must seize.


However, we must remain vigilant to ensure China follows these rules. Unlike past engagements with China, this agreement established a process for resolving problems which may arise. In the unlikely event senior officials are unable to resolve the issue, provisions are in place to begin U.S. withdrawal from the agreement.


Our recent success in trade is certainly encouraging, however, there is more to be done. For the next phase, I hope we will call for more comprehensive changes in the China economy to make it more compatible with a free worldwide trading system and integrate itself with the international norms of trading. The United States Trade Representative has also begun preliminary trade talks with the European Union and the United Kingdom. I always welcome substantive conversations toward open trade, however, as with any agreement, discussions with Europe must include agriculture – America’s number one trade constituency.


Progress on trade is good for our economy, producers, and ultimately the consumer. The phase one of the United States-China Trade Deal is a step in the right direction, and I thank President Trump and his team for their hard work.