Soy Grower, Other Ag Leaders Discuss Issues with USTR Nominee Lighthizer

Nebraska agriculture leaders had the chance to meet with U.S. Trade Representative nominee Robert Lighthizer last week and discuss issues important to farmers and ranchers.

American Soybean Association (ASA) Director Jim Miller attended the meeting, organized by Nebraska Sen. Benjamin Sasse, and said the group was “cautiously optimistic” about the discussion.

During the meeting, representatives from various ag sectors stressed to Lighthizer the importance of gaining exports.

“He said he heard us and we need to open markets,” Miller said.

The group also discussed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Lighthizer assured ag leaders they will have a seat at the table in discussions and emphazised the need for rules of origin, intellectual property protection, labor and environment rules.

He added NAFTA negotiations will start once President Donald Trump issues notice to use Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), followed by consultation and a period of 90 days.

Miller asked about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the 12 nation agreement Trump withdrew the U.S. from in January. Soy growers supported the agreement to help expand market access in the Asia-Pacific region.

Lighthizer said he wants to take what TPP and the previous negotiators hoped to accomplish and improve upon it.

Lighthizer has said he will take a tough stance on China. During the meeting, he said balancing pressure, while still growing markets will be difficult—but the goal is to maintain exports.