Trump nixes TPP
President Donald J. Trump today signed an executive order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

WASHINGTON – President Donald J. Trump today signed an executive order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which was signed by President Barack Obama as well as the leaders of 11 other Pacific Rim nations.

The aim of the agreement was to lower tariff and other barriers to trade. President Obama never submitted the agreement to Congress for a vote because the votes were not there to secure approval. Both President Trump and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced their opposition to the pact as written during the election campaign. President Trump said he would withdraw from the agreement altogether, and his executive order to that effect made good on that pledge.

The order was met with consternation in most of the agriculture community, which had been broadly supportive of the T.P.P., extolling its potential benefits for U.S. agricultural exports. It was expected the Trump administration also may seek changes to the 22-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico. Indications were the Trump administration was seeking meetings with the leaders of those two nations.

Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau
Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation

“While President Trump signed an executive order today withdrawing our nation from the T.P.P., we viewed the T.P.P. as a positive agreement for agriculture – one that would have added $4.4 billion annually to our struggling agriculture economy,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “With this decision, it is critical that the new administration begin work immediately to do all it can to develop new markets for U.S. agricultural goods and to protect and advance U.S. agricultural interests in the critical Asia-Pacific region.”

Mr. Duvall said the Farm Bureau will work with the new administration to help ensure that American agriculture can compete on a level playing field in markets around the world.

“But we need the administration’s commitment to ensuring we do not lose the ground gained – whether in the Asia-Pacific, North America, Europe or other parts of the world,” Mr. Duvall said.

“This is why we believe it is also important to re-emphasize the provisions of the NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico that have been beneficial for American agriculture,” Mr. Duvall continued. “U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled from $8.9 billion in 1993 to over $38 billion today, due in large part to NAFTA.

“Any renegotiation of NAFTA must recognize the gains achieved by American agriculture and assure that U.S. ag trade with Canada and Mexico remains strong. A.F.B.F. will work with the administration to remove remaining barriers that hamstring the ability of America’s farmers and ranchers to benefit from trading relationships with our important North American trading partners.”

Ron Moore, president of the American Soybean Association, urged the Trump administration to immediately announce how it intends to engage and expand market access in the Asia-Pacific region.

Ron Moore, American Soybean Association
Ron Moore, president of the American Soybean Association

“Trade is something soybean farmers take very seriously,” Mr. Moore, a farmer from Roseville, Ill., said. “We export more than half the soy we grow here in the United States and still more in the form of meat and other products that are produced with our meal and oil. The T.P.P. held great promise for us and has been a key priority for several years now. We're very disappointed to see the withdrawal today.”

Mr. Moore noted the T.P.P. region represents 40% of the world's gross domestic product, and according to the Peterson Institute, the T.P.P. would have increased overall U.S. exports by $357 billion by 2030. Specifically for U.S. farmers, the T.P.P. would have increased annual net farm income by $4.4 billion, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Additionally, the T.P.P. was the first regional trade agreement to address the need to coordinate international policy on trade in the products of agricultural biotechnology, a benefit that the A.S.A. will push to see in any future agreements with T.P.P. partner nations.

“Moving forward, we expect to see a plan in place as soon as possible to engage the T.P.P. partner nations and capture the value that we lose with the withdrawal today,” Mr. Moore said.