Tariff action benefits Iowa

Eases approval path for US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement

In 2018, President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. He sought to protect industries in the United States from what he said was unfair foreign competition. The tariffs were intended to strengthen our nation’s bargaining position in trade negotiations. Canada and Mexico were on the list of nations subject to these import charges. That led to retaliatory tariffs on American exports including on agricultural products from our state.

Eliminating the steel and aluminum tariffs for Canada and Mexico emerged as an option once the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement — usually referred to as USMCA — was negotiated last year. Its ratification by Congress is pending.

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley has been a strong advocate of eliminating these tariffs for Mexico and Canada. In an April opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal, the Iowa Republican made clear that the USMCA was likely dead in Congress unless these tariffs were ended.

It appears that someone in the White House was listening. On May 17, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced that an agreement had been achieved with Canada and Mexico halting these tariffs. That also will result in the retaliatory tariffs on agricultural products ending.

Gov. Kim Reynolds was quick to respond to this good news.

“Today represents a significant step forward for Iowa’s agriculture and manufacturing industries,” she said on the day of the announcement. “Mexico and Canada are Iowa’s top two trading partners, and the removal of steel, aluminum and retaliatory tariffs will increase exports of Iowa products.”

That sentiment was echoed strongly by U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst.

“This is huge news for Iowa — especially our state’s farmers and manufacturers who have been caught in the crosshairs of this tariff war with our neighbors,” the Iowa Republican said.

Now that this impediment to approving USMCA has been eliminated, it is time for Congress to move quickly to approve the trade pact.

The USMCA would increase access to Canadian markets for American agricultural exports. It also preserves zero tariffs on most agricultural sales between the United States and Mexico. Increasing agricultural exports to these countries is important to Iowa’s continued prosperity. That’s especially true just now because ongoing trade negotiations with China have made that nation — at least temporarily — a difficult marketplace for US agricultural products.

The Messenger welcomes this lifting of the steel and aluminum tariffs for Canada and Mexico. We applaud the persistence of the governor and Sens. Grassley and Ernst in championing this important step forward.

COMMENTS