‘You lost the trade war,’ says Harris; Pence lauds USMCA

The Trump administration “lost the trade war” with China, said Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president, on Wednesday during a debate with Vice President Mike Pence, who faulted her for voting against the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. It was the first time agriculture was mentioned in the pre-election debates.

“Farmers have suffered bankruptcy because of [President Trump],” said Harris. She said the trade war led to higher prices for American consumers. After Harris said, “You lost the trade war,” Pence responded that Democratic presidential nominee “Joe Biden never fought it.”

The USMCA “was a huge win for American farmers, especially there in the upper Midwest,” said Pence, a reference to openings for U.S. dairy and wheat exports to Canada. “The American people deserve to know Sen. Kamala Harris was one of only 10 members of the Senate to vote against the USMCA.” The Senate approved the USMCA, 89 to 10, on Jan. 16. Ahead of the vote, Harris said, “By not addressing climate change, the USMCA fails to meet the crises of this moment.”

U.S. farm exports slumped in fiscal 2019 after the trade war deepened; a recovery is forecast in the year ahead. The administration sent $23 billion in cash to farmers to mitigate the impact of the trade war. The U.S. International Trade Commission estimated in April 2019 that U.S. food and farm exports would rise by 1.1% with full implementation of the USMCA. “Most trade in agricultural products between the United States, Canada, and Mexico is already duty-free under NAFTA and would continue to be duty-free under USMCA,” it said.

To watch a C-SPAN video of the debate, click here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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