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United States : Heitkamp Brings Concerns of ND Farmers to U.S. Trade Representative

Jul 11, 2018 (Euclid Infotech Ltd via COMTEX) --

After several recent meetings with farmers and ranchers across North Dakota, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to express the frustration and concerns shes hearing from North Dakota agricultural producers and other industry leaders about the administration's trade policies.

Heitkamp has repeatedly pushed to meet with Lighthizer and other top administration officials to advocate for smart trade policies that protect and open markets for North Dakota producers not a trade war that threatens the states rural economy. At a recent meeting with President Trump at the White House, Heitkamp pushed for an end to the escalation of the trade war that is hurting North Dakotas economy.

Todays meeting comes after Heitkamp hosted a series of meetings with farmers and ranchers across North Dakota, where trade was the top concern raised by everyone from corn, soybean, and barley growers to biofuel producers, cattle ranchers, and North Dakota manufacturers. Tomorrow, Heitkamp will meet with North Dakota soybean growers in Washington.

As Ive repeatedly told Ambassador Lighthizer, this trade war is misguided and damaging to North Dakotas economy, which relies heavily on exporting the food, energy, and products we proudly produce for the world, Heitkamp said. We should be taking proactive steps to improve our trade agreements and build new markets instead, the administration has tossed a wrench of uncertainty into the gears that keep our rural economy moving forward. I talk to farmers and ranchers nearly every day, and their top concern is resolving this trade war quickly in a way that protects their access to markets. I again brought these concerns to Ambassador Lighthizer, and I urged him take the concerns of North Dakota producers to heart while pursuing a more strategic way to boost U.S. exports.

Last week, the administration imposed tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods as Heitkamp held meetings in Mandan, Minot, Carrington, and Wahpeton to talk about trade and the Farm Bill. China immediately imposed $34 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. soybeans and other agricultural products, targeting nearly all of North Dakotas agricultural exports to the country as well as North Dakotas energy exports.

Also last week, Canada announced new tariffs on U.S. goods following the administrations escalation of a trade war with North Dakotas largest foreign markets.

The trade war threatens over $60 million in North Dakota exports, according to a recent analysis by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which estimates that over 111,000 jobs in North Dakota are supported by trade. Click here to read the Chambers report on North Dakota.

The European Union (EU) recently responded to the administrations escalation of its trade war by imposing retaliatory tariffs on $3.4 billion in U.S. goods, including supply chain materials for agriculture and construction machinery, which accounts for 50 percent of North Dakotas exports to the EU.

North Dakota manufacturers are already feeling the negative consequences of the trade war. Prices for raw materials have gone up, and uncertainty has clouded their business prospects.

The tariffs on American goods imposed by the EU come after the administration imposed tariffs on EU steel and aluminum, saying they were necessary for national security reasons. Heitkamp recently joined U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) leading a bipartisan group of eight other senators in introducing legislation to require congressional approval of tariffs designated for national security reasons. Heitkamp also cosponsored bipartisan legislation introduced by Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona to nullify the aluminum and steel tariffs.

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