U.S. and Chinese Trade Delegations
Official White House Photo by by Tia Dufour (Public Domain)

President Donald Trump, on Wednesday, signed the Phase One China Trade Deal that the White House says will begin to rebalance the United States’ trade partnership with China that will benefit both countries.

Some of Iowa’s elected officials offered a response to the development.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and U.S. Senators Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, attended the signing. 

Grassley was cautiously optimistic. 

“President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer should be commended for this significant progress toward a full and enforceable deal with China. Farmers have borne the brunt of retaliation throughout this trade war. At the White House today, I was thinking of my neighbors in Iowa and all the other farmers across the country who have stood strong throughout this process,” he said in a released statement. 

“I hope this proves to be a turning point in our economic relationship with China, but I’ve seen enough history to be clear-eyed. Not only must China follow through with its commitments in this Phase One deal, but also work toward a comprehensive agreement that ends forced technology transfers, intellectual property theft and unfair restrictions on U.S. goods, including agriculture. Only then will we know if China can be a reliable economic partner in the 21st century,” Grassley added.

Ernst, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, applauded the trade agreement but noted the U.S. could not assume China will adhere to the deal.

“There’s no doubt that this is an exciting start to the new year for the great state of Iowa—from the phase one China trade agreement being finalized to the USMCA moving through the Senate, I’m proud to work with President Trump to deliver real results for Iowa’s farmers and manufacturers,” she said.

From Left: U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, Ambassador Terry Branstad, and Gov. Kim Reynolds at President Trump’s signing of the Phase One China Trade Deal at the White House. (Photo by Tanner Wilson)

Reynolds was positive about the deal.

“Today, President Trump secured a historic win for the American people. Forging a stronger trade agreement with China puts Iowa farmers, families, and small businesses first,” she said. “By opening and expanding markets for our products, protecting intellectual property, and setting standards for currency valuation, President Trump has provided the American economy with a foundation for exponential growth and economic prosperity.”

“I want to commend the President and his entire team, including Ambassador Branstad and trade Ambassador Lighthizer for being a staunch advocate for American farmers and workers. I look forward to working with the administration to build on the progress made today,” Reynolds added.

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, congratulated President Trump on the House floor.

“I take the floor today to raise the issue and be thankful of the progress that we’ve made with regard to trade. We’ve been through a year and a half or more of enhanced trade negotiations, and I’ve watched as our markets took a hard hit and tailspinned down for a couple of days, down the limit awhile back, and slowly creeped back in again,” he said.

“So, we produce a lot of corn and soybeans, and cattle and hogs, and eggs and renewable energy in the 4th Congressional district of Iowa. In fact, it is the number one ag producing Congressional district in all of America. And, so, we saw a publication on the part of Bloomberg that when the tariffs were put on to Chinese goods coming into the United States by President Trump, the Chinese retaliated with tariffs on products like pork and soybeans. And Bloomberg just showed a map of the United States, where that hit the hardest, and it happened to hit exactly over the red counties in America that produce a lot of corn and soybeans,” King stated.

He then explained what he believes trade deal accomplishes.

“But the situation that we’re dealing with now is that we’ve gotten a long ways through this trade negotiation, and we’re coming around to the other side of it with China in spite of all of this difficulty, and all these markets that have been suppressed over this period of time. We’ve found some new trade outlets, for one thing. Instead of having one big pipe going to China, we’ve got multiple smaller pipes going to other locations in the world. And, today, the President signs Phase One of the trade agreement that will increase by about $16 billion a year our ag product exports to China. That includes a lot of soybeans, it includes a lot of pork, and it fixes that component,” King said.

“It also addresses the intellectual property issue that’s been a big barrier for the trade negotiations with China. The value of U.S. intellectual property, the creation that comes out of the minds of Americans, the value of that that is pirated by the Chinese is somewhere between $500 and $600 billion a year. That gets addressed to a degree in this agreement, and it gets addressed again in the next phase of the agreement,” he added.

Watch his full remarks:

U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, offered a tepid response. 

“As this administration has pursued a prolonged trade war with China, Iowa farmers have been the ones to pay the price. As I’ve traveled through Southwest Iowa, I have heard concerns directly from farmers I represent in Washington — concerns about how long this trade war has gone on, how difficult it will be to reclaim lost markets, and how deep the seeds of uncertainty have been laid as a result of protracted tensions with China,” Axne said in a released statement.

“I’m hopeful that today’s Phase 1 agreement with China puts us on a path to ending this harmful trade war, and I will closely monitor the implementation to ensure Iowans are receiving what they’re promised,” she added. 

“While we have not received all the details of the finalized agreement, I will be looking to see if it will result in more purchases of Iowa’s agricultural products and reduce the harmful impacts of the tariffs on American businesses and consumers,” Axne stated. 

“This administration must finalize a deal that will be enough to make up for what Iowa farmers have lost. We have seen China go back on their word time and time again, and any agreement must reflect a need for guarantees and enforcement mechanisms to protect our farmers’ futures,” she concluded.

U.S. Reps. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, have not offered a public statement on the trade deal.

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