A new report shows the United States is falling behind its competitors in reducing global trade barriers. The Corn Refiners Association released the report this week. The report tracked trade agreements since 2010 and found several nations have outpaced the U.S.
“Over the last ten years, U.S. progress on new trade agreements has been very modest and the outlook is not promising,” said Corn Refiners Association President and CEO John Bode. “Does that mean we’re standing still or are we falling behind because the rest of the world is moving forward while we sit on the sidelines? The answer is clear. Rival trading nations have rapidly expanded trade opportunities through bilateral and multilateral trade arrangements.”
The report says U.S. trade partners are pressing forward with new trade agreements without the U.S., risking diminished American economic competitiveness and investment opportunities.
“China is number one in international trade. They’ve entered ten new (free trade agreements), including the Regional Comprehensive Partnership which is the world’s largest trade agreement,” Bode continued. “The European Union is number two in international trade. It has entered into eight new free trade agreements including agreements with Japan, Canada, and Mercosur, which includes Argentina and Brazil.”
Japan is number four in international trade and has entered seven new free trade agreements including with India, the European Union, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Canada is number eight for international trade and has entered into eight new trade agreements including with the EU and the CPTPP.
“By comparison,” Bode said, “the U.S., which is number three in international trade, has concluded just four trade agreements, the most significant of which was the modernization of NAFTA.”
Bode made those comments Tuesday during a roundtable discussion hosted by Farmers for Free Trade. California Congressman Jim Costa was the featured lawmaker at the roundtable. He said active involvement in trade relations is important for the nation.
“When I look at Europe, and I think of the World Trade Organization and some of the other entities in which we engaged in, in fact that we actually created together, it reminds me that we must think of how we can reach consensus,” Costa said. “When you look at Europe and the United States combined, and Canada, we account for over half the world’s economy. Now, that’s not going to continue as we move into the 21st century. But as western democracies that share common values, we still have the ability, I think, to write the rules.”
Costa said in many cases our competitors or adversaries “don’t follow the rules.”
“I’m talking about China, obviously, and India, and other countries,” he said.
He also said there are currently several frustrating challenges on the trade front for the current administration.
“It’s been frustrating that we didn’t get our trade ambassador confirmed until June of this year and we still don’t have the agricultural trade person Elaine Trevino, who I’ve worked with over the years in California, confirmed,” he continued. “She needs to be confirmed. We need to have that experience and expertise in place. So, it’s a challenge to say the least.”
Costa is a senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee.