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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax and trade legislation, this week questioned U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai at a hearing on the administration’s trade agenda. Thune called out the Biden administration for its inexcusable delay in prioritizing a confirmable nominee for chief agricultural negotiator. Thune also pressed the administration to advance market access initiatives that would benefit South Dakotans, and he discussed the need to pass Trade Promotion Authority, which is essential for negotiating future trade agreements.
On Biden’s inexcusable delay in prioritizing a confirmable nominee for chief agricultural negotiator (excerpt):
“We’re a year into the administration, and it’s just, it’s an expression of priorities, and I can tell you that there are a lot of farmers and ranchers and agricultural producers [and] growers around this country who are very, very concerned that the promotion of agricultural exports be a priority, and it doesn't seem like it is [for the administration].”
On the administration’s lack of market access initiatives (excerpt):
“We’re the leading economy in the world for a reason, and a major part of that is because American exporters, and by that I mean, farmers, businessmen and women, and innovators and entrepreneurs, boldly go into global markets and oftentimes succeed. And just as an example, U.S. farm and food product exports grew from $46 billion dollars in 1994 to more than $177 billion last year. U.S. exports support a lot of good-paying jobs at home and help spread the reach of American influence abroad, and so I'm just trying to get you all to focus.
“I understand this [Indo-Pacific Economic] framework, but because there isn't market access in there, because there aren’t, you know, tangible benefits delivered, it's a lot of really flowery rhetoric. But, I'm trying to see where this does anything to open markets for our farmers and ranchers in areas of the world where America just flat needs to be a presence and needs to be competitive and needs to be leading the way. If we are going to isolate China, doing business with a lot of countries in that region just seems like [it] makes a lot of sense.”