Iowa Public Television

 

PNTR for China passes

posted on May 26, 2000


BOOSTED BY BIGGER SALES OF CORN, WHEAT, SOYBEANS AND ANIMAL FEED, U.S. FARM EXPORTS IN MARCH CLIMBED TO BETTER THAN $4.5-BILLION DOLLARS. THAT BROUGHT COMMODITY EXPORTS FOR THE FIRST QUARTER OF THE YEAR TO NEARLY $13-BILLION DOLLARS, WELL AHEAD OF THE PACE FOR THE FIRST THREE MONTHS OF 1999.

FARM EXPORTS HAVE BEEN A CONSTANT BUT LONELY BRIGHT SPOT IN THE U.S. BALANCE OF TRADE PICTURE. AND THE BEST MAY BE YET TO COME. CONGRESS THIS WEEK TOOK STEPS TO GRANT TRADE STATUS TO CHINA THAT MANY SUPPORTERS HOPE WILL NOT ONLY BOOST EXPORTS BUT U.S. FARM INCOME LEVELS, AS WELL.

THE DEBATE OVER PERMANENT NORMAL TRADE RELATIONS WITH CHINA, OR P-N-T-R, WAS IN FULL SWING THIS WEEK. SUPPORTERS OF THE BILL ARGUED THE LEGISLATION WOULD SPUR EXPORT GROWTH, AND WARNED 134 OTHER COUNTRIES WOULD REAP THE BENEFITS OF THE WORLD'S MOST POPULOUS MARKET IF THE U.S. FAILED TO GRANT PERMANENT TRADE STATUS TO IT..

SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE DAN GLICKMAN AND OTHER P-N-T-R ADVOCATES INSIST THE TRADE AGREEMENT WILL BE A BOON TO PRODUCERS OF U-S GOODS, INCLUDING GROWERS OF AGRICULTURAL COMMODITIES LIKE WHEAT, CITRUS, CORN AND SOYBEANS.

ON THE OTHER SIDE WERE THOSE WHO SEE HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AND UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES BY THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT AS A PROBLEM TOO BIG TO IGNORE.

BY WEDNESDAY NIGHT, THE DEBATE GAVE WAY TO VOTING AND THE HOUSE PASSED LEGISLATION GRANTING PERMANENT NORMAL TRADE RELATIONS TO CHINA.

THE BILL IS ALMOST CERTAIN TO PASS THROUGH THE SENATE WITH LITTLE DIFFICULTY BEFORE RECEIVING FINAL APPROVAL FROM PRESIDENT CLINTON.

WHEAT PRODUCERS IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST ARE ALREADY SEEING SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF THE AGREEMENT. SHIPS FROM CHINA ARE SCHEDULED TO FILL AND HAUL GRAIN FROM THE REGION FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FIFTY YEARS.

BUT NO ONE KNOWS FOR SURE IF ANY NOTICEABLE BENEFIT WILL MATERIALIZE FOR AGRICULTURE OR ANY OTHER BUSINESS. THE INVESTMENT WORTHY COMPANIES IN CHINA ARE STATE-OWNED, AND CHINA STILL MUST COMPLETE ITS CURRENT REFORM AGENDA.

EVEN SUPPORTERS OF THE TRADE MEASURE WORRY ABOUT CHINA'S COMMITMENT TO WORLD TRADE RULES.

HISTORICALLY THE NATION HAS DISMISSED THE CONCEPT OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. PUBLISHING, FILM, AND RECORDING INDUSTRIES HAVE SEEN WORKS ROUTINELY COPIED AND DISTRIBUTED WITHOUT RECEIVING ROYALTIES. THERE IS MORE THAN A LITTLE CONCERN THAT THE SAME COULD HAPPEN TO SOFTWARE AND GENETIC PROPERTY.

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD, TRADE DISPUTES WITH THE EUROPEANS CONTINUE TO FESTER. THE EUROPEAN UNION THIS WEEK PROPOSED CONTINUING ITS BAN ON THE USE OF GROWTH HORMONES IN CATTLE. THE BAN HAS CRIPPLED U.S. BEEF EXPORTS TO EUROPE. IT ALSO LED TO RETALIATORY U.S. SANCTIONS AGAINST THE E.U. AFTER IT FAILED TO MEET A WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION DEADLINE FOR DROPPING THE BAN.

THE EUROPEANS SAY THEY HAVE "A SUBSTANTIAL BODY OF EVIDENCE" THAT CERTAIN HORMONES COULD CAUSE CANCER. A SPOKESWOMAN FOR THE NATIONAL CATTLEMEN'S BEEF ASSOCIATION CALLED THE EUROPEAN POSITION "LAUGHABLE."


Tags: agriculture China Congress news politics trade