Congressman Cleaver hosts meeting with Canadian Consul on trade
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II hosted a community discussion on trade on Monday, July 2, in Higginsville. The guest speaker for the meeting was Consul General John Cruikshank from the Canadian Consulate in Chicago, Ill. The Consul General spoke about NAFTA negotiations and the current trade issues between Canada and the United States.
Cleaver said that, according to the Consulate General of Canada, our nation’s neighbor to the north is Missouri’s number one customer and sells more to Missouri than it sells to India. He also reported a large number of jobs in Missouri depend on trade and investment with Canada.
“Missouri’s automobile industry steers a large portion of the state’s economy,” Cleaver stated. “For example, as a major producer of steel and aluminum parts for the auto-sector, Ontario-based Martinrea International Inc. employs over 300 people at a site in Riverside, Missouri.”
During his presentation, Cruikshank shared statistics that show how important trade partnerships are.
“Nearly $2 billion worth of goods and services cross the U.S.-Canada border each day,” he said. “In fact, the U.S. exports more to Canada alone than it does to China, Japan and the United Kingdom combined. And one in 17 jobs, or nearly 9 million jobs, in the U.S. depend on trade and investment with Canada.”
Cruikshank said trade negotiations thus far have produced some good outcomes, but that there are two major points on which talks have stalled.
The first point the Trump administration is pushing, and Canada is resisting, is the requirement of a sunset clause in any future agreement. A sunset clause allows an agreement to end at a prearranged date, unless both parties agree to extend that date. The general Consul General said this makes no sense and he believes Canadian negotiators will insist any agreement remains without a sunset clause.
The second sticking point is the idea of taking away a chapter in the agreement that allows parties to negotiate tariffs.
“First, this is illegal under the agreement written by the United States in the first place,” Cruikshank said. “And when it first came up, it created ill feelings among Canadians. It was as if the U.S. was implying they have some reason to fear Canada, on some kind of a security level.”
When asked by an attendee whether or not negotiations were currently open, Cruikshank said they were not.
“We have found what is, essentially, a closed door at this time when it comes to negotiations with the United States,” he said. “What we have heard is that President Trump wants to wait until after the mid-term elections to re-open negotiations. That means we may not get back into the negotiation room until January of 2019.”
The Consul General also stated Canada recently has signed an agreement with the European Union and Pacific Rim nations.
“There are no sunset clauses on these agreements, and we have opened up trade with an additional 1 billion people worldwide because of these agreements,” he said.
Government statistics show that Missouri’s farmers and manufacturers export $800 million in products and services to Canada each year. In fact, in 2017 Canada was the number one export market for U.S. agricultural products.
“In the past 10 years, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada have increased 46 percent. For every $1 billion in U.S. agricultural exports, approximately 8,100 American jobs are supported and $1.3 billion in economic activity is generated.”
With an audience packed with local farmers and agricultural professionals, representatives of local county governments, and leaders of agriculture related businesses such as Mid-Mo Energy and Ham Hill Farms, Cleaver brought attention to how the “trade war” now in the works will impact agriculture.
“President Trump’s tariffs imposed on the EU, Canada, China and Mexico will hurt Missouri farmers far more than this administration is willing to admit,” Cleaver said. “Agriculture is Missouri’s top industry, providing over 400,000 jobs in Missouri and the impact of these tariffs will create unnecessary financial hardships on farmers. I’m calling on the rural community to join us for a discussion on this issue and to share your concerns.”
The White House this spring announced a 25 percent tariff for steel and a 10 percent tariff for aluminum. The tariffs have yielded retaliatory tariffs from several nations.
Mexico has imposed $3 billion worth of tariffs on U.S exports. These include 20 percent tariffs on U.S. pork, apples, and potatoes, and a 25 percent tariff on cheese and bourbon.
The EU has implemented tariffs on over $7 billion worth of U.S goods such as denim, orange juice, bourbon, peanut butter, motorboats and cigarettes. Missouri has over $246 million worth of goods that are subject to the EU tariffs.
Canada has imposed tariffs on a wide variety of U.S. exports set to take effect July 1. The 25 percent tariff on nearly $13 billion in U.S. goods includes steel and aluminum, prepared meals, maple syrup and pizza.
China has implemented a new 15 percent tariff on 120 U.S. imported goods, including fruits and wine and has increased existing tariffs on pork and scrap aluminum to 25 percent.
“China has stated they would begin retaliating against the United States with larger tariffs on our goods and services,” Cleaver said. “And they have clearly stated they are going to target those states that supported Donald Trump in the past presidential election. That puts Missouri right in the middle of such retaliation.”
Cleaver said he and others in Washington, D.C., have been hearing from constituents from their home states asking what Congress is going to do about the trade war. He then urged those in attendance to contact the White House concerning the current trade issues, stating that contacting their legislators would not be as fruitful.
“It is more important that you contact the White House right now than to contact your members of Congress. Right now it seems that out hands are tied,” he said. “It started in the Nixon years. Presidents making decisions on their own that Congress should be making. … Congress has given away their autonomy to the executive branch – to all of the presidents since 1972 – and we have got to get it back.”
Cleaver noted Missouri is in a particularly precarious position right now because of the stalled trade negotiations.
“There is a lot of concern worldwide about current trade issues,” Cleaver stated. “Missouri is at center stage, and I believe it is not a stage we want to be on.”