The 2019 Cattle Industry Convention in New Orleans came to an end on Friday. During the closing session and at a press conference prior to the event, US Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue spoke. He addressed many topics in his 34 minute speech, including the latest developments in Chinese trade negotiations, diversifying export markets and the regulation of cultured meat.
China Trade Negotiations
Much of the focus of Perdue’s speech was on the current trade talks with China. Greg D Horstmeier of DTNPF reported on the event.
In his speech, Perdue stressed that one of the toughest areas of negotiation with China involve protecting US intellectual property. He believes there’s still a long way to go before any substantive agreement is reached.
“We’re heartened by the spirit,” of Chinese-U.S. talks earlier in the week, he said. But, he added, trade rules are “never done until it’s really done, and then it’s not really done until there are enforcement mechanisms,” to permanently protect U.S. interests from forced transfer of intellectual property and intellectual theft.
He spoke to the cattle producers plainly.
“We’ve got to be good neighbors and treat each other’s intellectual property like we treat real property.”
Anna-Lisa Laca of AgWeb covered Perdue’s comments on the negotiations. He said the meetings in the Oval Office last week went well.
“I’m hoping that China will recognize that to be part of the international trading family they’ve got to play by the rules,” he said. “If that’s the case, I think we’re willing and able. We’ve had a team in China earlier this year with Under Secretary McKinney and our trade folks there along with the U.S. trade Ambassador Lighthizer, and things are going well. They know what we want, and we know what they want. It’s a matter of the willingness to comply with that, as well as enforcement mechanisms. It’s easier to say something on paper, but not live up to it, and we’ve got to make sure that there are significant and adequate enforcement mechanisms over intellectual property transfers.”
Sarah Muirhead of Feedstuffs also reported on Purdue’s speech at the Cattle Industry Conference, and provides background information about the Chinese trade negotiations that happened in Washington DC last week.
When it comes to trade negotiations, Perdue says that there is a general desire on both sides to get something done- though he also added that President Trump would not be willing to sign a short-term agreement.
“Trump is not going to sign something just to have a deal and that does not have any teeth in it for enforce.”
The US would really like to improve trade relations with China. Perdue said,
“We would love for them to be a reliable customer. We know that we can be a reliable supplier.”
There seemed to be a bright spot in the negotiations. At a joint press conference President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He- who led the talks for China- announced that China would be purchasing 5 million metric tons of US soybeans.
It’s rumored that China will “substantially” expand US Ag imports, but there are no further details available at this time.
Perdue then moved on to the topic of diversifying markets. He believes that the US has depended on too few customers for too long, and explained the administration’s efforts to expand trade with countries like Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan. This was likely an effort to address some of the recent activity with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which President Trump pulled the US out of early in his presidency believing it was a bad trade deal.
“Anyone that eats is in our sights,” Perdue said.
Perdue emphasized how important Japan is to the US beef sector. US trade representatives don’t want the US to be at a disadvantage now versus the rest of the TPP, and they’re working to get standards there over the trade barriers.
They’re also working on improving trade negotiations with the EU. The EU probably has more non-trade barriers for US agriculture than anywhere else, and we’d like them to remove those barriers and agree to a deal based on more internationally recognized standards.
Perdue said that the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATPP), is designed to help producers with these types of challenges. The program awarded $200 million to 57 organizations last Thursday to help US farmers and ranchers to find and access new export markets and help mitigate the effects of other countries’ tariff and non-tariff barriers. Funds are designed to be leveraged with independent dollars.
Finally, Perdue addressed the topic of cultured meat. The USDA and FDA have been debating how to regulate the new product. Perdue says the USDA will participate in regulation, but acknowledges that the FDA should take the wheel when it comes to genetic and other scientific areas.
“I want to assure you that when it comes to harvesting that, calling it a product for people to eat, USDA is going to be there guarding the safety and the labeling of that product to make sure consumers know,” he said to loud applause.
Perdue’s speech at the Cattle Industry Convention provided some useful insights, especially in regard to Chinese trade negotiations. Each trade-talk meeting seems to be making some progress. It was also useful to hear what Perdue had to say to his cattle industry audience. He emphasized a commitment to diversifying beef markets and continuing to stay involved in the regulation of cultured meat.