Jul 18, 2018
New tariffs cause Congress and industry to react

Recently, the Trump administration announced that they were preparing an additional $200 billion in tariffs against China in what’s described by media outlets as a trade war. The National Potato Council (NPC) said the potato industry has already been impacted by retaliatory tariffs in response to previous actions against steel and aluminum and against China directly due to unfair trade practices. This retaliation against the potato industry primarily involves frozen fries to Mexico, the NPC said, and that China’s action against seed and fresh potatoes was muted due to lack of market access.

As the list of retaliatory tariffs increases and more U.S. agricultural export markets are restricted, it has caused both the industry and Congress to seek some type of short term response. NPC and a group of other specialty crop interests met with USDA officials recently to advise them of the export losses and also explore the government tools that might be available to mitigate the impact.

“The primary message is that we want all sides to get back to the negotiating table and remove these tariffs. During the Mexican trucking dispute, the potato industry experienced first hand the type of long term impact these tariff disruptions can cause,” said John Keeling, NPC CEO.

Also, the Senate passed a non-binding resolution 88-11 that instructs members negotiating an appropriations bill to include enabling language to constrain the president’s ability to escalate the trade war further. It is unlikely that this language will be enacted, the NPC said, as it would require the president’s signature or a veto override. However, the group said the effort is a clear indication of the concern that members of Congress are feeling as the tariffs increase and the November elections draw closer.


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