Iowa exports are “flat-lining” according to the director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Debi Durham says it’s worrisome since negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement are unresolved.
“I believe that all trade agreements, particularly ones like NAFTA that should be looked at to be modernized — I don’t think there’s any issue with that, but certainly Mexico and Canada are some of our largest trading partners and that’s concerning to us,” Durham says.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, exports of Iowa agricultural commodities dropped 8.4 percent in 2016 compared to the year before. Durham says NAFTA isn’t the only problem spot in Iowa’s export picture. Australia and other countries are sealing deals in the wake of President Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Trans Pacific Partnership.
Durham’s hoping the Trump Administration starts striking some “bilateral” trade deals with individual countries soon, to bolster Iowa’s export prospects.
“The one thing that keeps me up is that,” Durham says. “It’s a huge part of our economy.”
Canada accepted $3.3 billion worth of Iowa goods and commodities in 2016. Mexico was Iowa’s second-largest trading partner, importing about $2.3 billion worth of Iowa products. Iowa exports to Japan last year totalled $1.1 billion. Corn, soybeans, pork, tractors and aircraft were among the top Iowa commodities exported last year.