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U.S. agriculture industry tackles non-tariff trade barriers

Photo courtesy of GS Communications

United States politicians are heavily focused on trade, especially with Canada, Mexico, China and Japan. Recently they have invested time and interest into non-tariff trade barriers.

A farm advocate speaks to non-tariff trade barriers threatening U.S. producers.

AUDIO: Mary Kay Thatcher, Syngenta

Lobbyists and politicians have spent “a lot of time on trade” recently, with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and China being their primary focus. Mary Kay Thatcher, senior lead for federal government relations at Syngenta, speaks to non-tariff trade barriers, which is not “as sexy of a subject,” but still important to farmers who rely heavily on trade.

“We’ve been spending a lot of time on maximum residue limits – the amount of residue you are able to have on a kernel of corn or sweet tart cherry. Most places listen to what CODEX and the World Health Organization (have to) say about what’s the right amount. What we’re finding, especially in the European Union, is they’re lowering maximum residue levels significantly below where ours are,” Thatcher said.

Non-tariff trade barriers complicate agricultural transactions, as product standards do not align. United States agricultural products faces both tariff and non-tariff trade barriers in the Chinese market.

“Another one is trying to get biotech products approved around the world,” Thatcher said. “If you go (to) China, it takes a much longer time for that to happen – five to six years at times. We need to speed that process up. They use it as a non-tariff trade barrier, so we have to continue to work and say, ‘Come on guys, let’s move along and get some of this going.’”

The International Trade Commission is conducting an in-depth analysis of non-tariff trade barriers, per the U.S. Trade Representative’s request. Thatcher hopes the Commission’s investigation will provide greater clarity, as well as a solution to this problem.