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Ag groups urge U.S. lawmakers to remain in WTO

Ag groups urge U.S. lawmakers to remain in WTO

President Trump has discussed leaving the World Trade Organization on multiple occasions

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Several U.S. ag industry organizations are asking federal lawmakers to keep the country involved with an international trade group.

A total of 62 groups sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and members of House and Senate ag and finance committees asking them to vote against any resolution that would remove the U.S. from the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Signatories include the American Farm Bureau, American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association and the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

American farmers have benefited from the country’s involvement with the WTO, the groups say.

“The WTO affords U.S. agriculture producers and exporters most-favored nation treatment in 163 countries, representing over 80 percent of the global economy,” the letter reads. “As long as exports are important to U.S. agriculture, WTO membership will be essential as well.”

Staying in the WTO and helping improve the way it operates will help agriculture and other industries, the American Soybean Association said.

"The American Soybean Association recognizes the need for reform within the World Trade Organization but that those improvements will be strengthened by continued U.S. engagement with the organization," the organization told Farms.com in a statement. "We appreciate the doors the WTO can open for agriculture oversees, and despite room for improvement, we believe the value provided by this organization remains solid, as demonstrated by the increase in goods traded abroad and simultaneous decrease in tariffs on those goods since its inception.

"Soy particularly relies on strong oversees relationships, and we need the regulatory structure WTO can provide for these transactions."

The Sept. 23 letter comes after the WTO ruled earlier in the month that the U.S. violated international trade rules when it placed billions of dollars of tariffs on Chinese products two years ago. The two countries implemented tariffs amid their trade war.

The United States “had not met its burden of demonstrating that the measures are provisionally justified,” the WTO panel said in its report.

President Trump has threatened to leave the WTO in the past.

In April of this year, he threatened to leave unless the WTO started ruling cases in favor of the U.S.

In 2018 and 2019, the president said the U.S. would end its membership in the WTO because the trade group considered China a developing nation.

And he may investigate removing the U.S. from the organization again following the September ruling.

“Well, then we’ll have to do something about the WTO because they’ve let China get away with murder,” the president said on Sept. 15 after the WTO’s decision. “But I’m not a big fan of the WTO – that I can tell you right now. Maybe they did us a big favor.”

Farms.com has reached out to industry groups for comment.

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