Lighthizer on U.K., China Trade

Clint Thompson Alabama, Exports/Imports, Florida, Georgia


The United States-United Kingdom (UK) trade talks are moving ahead and China will meet its commitment to buy billions more in U.S. farm goods as part of the Phase One trade deal, despite the coronavirus pandemic. That came from U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert Lighthizer during a Senate Finance hearing testimony last Wednesday.

Lighthizer says trade talks with the UK are on again as the global pandemic slows. But there are tough issues, including protectionist regional naming of common foods like meat, cheese and wine.

“It’s a very difficult issue. To the extent that Europe and the UK make a deal, and they give away this space, and it’s not clear that they will give it away, or whether they will or they won’t, but if they do, this is going to be a bigger and bigger problem. I agree completely, on geographic indications, with your position. I agree that it’s thinly -guised protectionism.”

But Lighthizer said he would not return to Congress with a trade deal, unless it includes agriculture. Separately, he says China will come close to buying in 2020, tens of billions more in US farm goods under the Phase 1 deal, despite the pandemic and public doubts here about China meeting the goal.

 “You’ve probably got $10 billion, I’ve got my notes here, I can put them out, about $1 billion, worth of purchases, toward the target of something, 40 or 50. You then would say, okay, maybe $10 billion additional are going to be at the end of the year on soybeans. And then you have to look at what you purchase, between now and then. And I think if you do, it’s reasonable to make the assessment that we’re going to get close to those numbers, or reasonably close to them.”

Meanwhile, Senate Finance Chair Chuck Grassley and ranking panel Democrat Ron Wyden criticized the U.S. Trade Representative for not being transparent enough with Congress on trade talks. Though Lighthizer disagreed and pointed to business privacy concerns in some sensitive talks.

(From the National Association of Farm Broadcasters)