Some Iowans are worried about the impact on the state’s billions of dollars in exports after President Trump signed an order Monday to pull out of talks on the Trans Pacific Partnership.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says trade is vital to several Iowa industries, chiefly agriculture, manufacturing and services.
“You’re playing with fire when you talk against trade agreements that maybe could be better for the United States,” Grassley says. “I wouldn’t make any judgments that Trump’s wrong for trying to get a better deal for America. If he can do that, I’ll support that.” Iowa exported more than 13-billion dollars in products during 2015 and Grassley fears Trump’s action could hurt the Hawkeye State’s options for overseas trade.
“Particularly with Japan, I think it will,” Grassley says, “but if he follows it up quickly with some sort of bilateral negotiation with just Japan, particularly to help agriculture, it would fill that vacuum.” Iowa sent one-point-one billion dollars in exports to Japan in 2015.
The TPP involves the U.S. and 11 other countries, including Canada, Mexico, Peru, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. As promised during the campaign, Trump signed an executive order which pulls the U.S. out of future negotiations on the proposed partnership.
“It may sound like I’d just be blaming Trump maybe hurting Iowa,” Grassley says, “but let me tell you, TPP would’ve had a very difficult time in the Congress getting a majority vote even if Obama was president.” Grassley says people will appreciate that the new president is trying to get a better deal for American products.
“Who can argue with that, but we don’t know yet, but he’s going down that road,” Grassley says. “We’ll just have to wait and see. I hope he’s successful. In the meantime, I hope he doesn’t hurt American agriculture in the process.” Many agriculture commodity groups, including the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, supported the TPP as a way to stimulate trade.
Iowa’s other U.S. Senator, Joni Ernst released this statement on the action:
“I am disappointed in today’s executive action to withdraw the United States from TPP. With one in five jobs in Iowa dependent on trade, access to new markets is critical to our state’s economy.
“However, we must not let this stop our country from pursuing increased trade opportunities for our exporters. With the growing demand for our agricultural products across the world, it is imperative that we ensure a level playing field for American farmers and manufacturers to have a fair opportunity to compete in these markets.
“Under this new administration, I will continue to advocate for ways to work together toward a stronger trade agenda on behalf of Iowans.”