Doud says Free and fair trade is key to agriculture’s success

At the recent International Sweetener Symposium, Ambassador Gregg Doud, the U.S. Trade Representative’s chief agriculture negotiator, outlined the country’s trade agenda.

Foreign subsidies and unfair trade practices abroad took center stage when Doud said tearing down trade barriers and holding our trading partners accountable to their World Trade Organization obligations top the priority list. Doud singled out China and India among the biggest subsidy abusers in agriculture and said reform is needed.

“We think China has done in excess of $100 billion more in subsidies to its farmers than it was allowed to do,” he said, noting that China has not reported its subsidies to the WTO since 2010.

Meanwhile, India is far in excess of its WTO subsidy limits in rice and wheat, Doud told the group of more than 400. India is also a major player in the world sugar market and has recently ratcheted up subsidies to prop up its inefficient sugar growers as world prices collapse.

“I can’t think of a commodity that is more distorted,” he said of the heavily subsidized world sugar market. “If you think there’s a problem in steel, take a look at the sugar market.”

Rolling back foreign government intervention and creating a free flow of goods where the most efficient producers succeed is a priority for U.S. sugar producers. And that’s exactly what Doud says the Trump administration is working to accomplish for all of agriculture.

He explained that a timely renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and new opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers in Canada, Japan and Europe are key.

“Everybody understands the importance of agriculture with regard to trade in this country,” he said. “Uncertainty in commodity markets is always bearish, so what we have to do in short order is create certainty.”

Ryan Weston, the incoming chairman of the American Sugar Alliance, thanked Doud and his team for their tireless work on behalf of rural America.

“This administration is fighting very hard for American agriculture, working for markets that are both free and fair,” Weston concluded. “The impact of their work extends well beyond the farm. It creates jobs in factories and opportunities for families that wouldn’t exist otherwise.”