Commentary: John R. Block Reports from Washington


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And now today’s commentary-

U.S. farmers have had their foot on the accelerator pushing to get the crops in the ground. Wet and cold weather was a problem for a while, but we are approaching the finish line. My farm in Illinois is all planted with the corn up and growing and most of the soybeans. Now, all we can do is pray for good crop weather. Some of our northern Midwest states have had to deal with terrible weather. Also, if you go west drought doesn’t want to let up.

Let’s talk about trade now. President Biden has not been in a hurry to rejoin the Transpacific Partnership. President Trump pulled us out of that agreement which would have improved our trade relations with many Asian countries. Japan is still urging the U.S. to rejoin. I don’t know why we don’t rejoin. Instead, President Biden launched negotiations in Tokyo this week with 12 countries to create the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. That agreement will include Japan, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, India and others. The agreement is supposed to strengthen our trade ties and national security relations in that part of the world. Taiwan is left out of the deal because that would anger China and might cause some of the members to object. The countries in the agreement want to work more closely together and deliver a positive economic impact. The details of the pact will take months maybe a year to work out.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai had this to say: “Collectively the trade pillar in this agreement will unlock enormous economic value.” Robert Manning, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, has his doubts. “No matter how they package it, IPEF is not a substitute for TPP. There is trade liberalization, no tariff reduction, and unclear if any binding agreements.” The new Asian agreement is clearly designed to get the U.S. back into the region and counter China. It is too soon to know if it will be worth the effort. We need to begin negotiating tariff reductions – especially with China.

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The views expressed in this editorial are those of the writer and not necessarily those of nor the Southern Farm Network.