What’s the Plan, Sta… Katherine?

Oct 8, 2021

The “top-to-bottom” review of the U.S.-China trade policy (cringe) is finally complete… and it only took eight months.

After an unveiling earlier this week, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai’s trade plan got mixed reviews.

Refresher: In the wake of a vicious U.S.-China trade war that left the ag industry up the creek without a paddle, a “Phase 1” trade deal was implemented in February 2020.

Under the agreement, China was to purchase U.S. ag and manufactured goods worth $200B more than 2017 levels over the course of the two-year agreement.

As of right now, they’ve purchased a little over 60% of those promised goods. Getting there… right?

During her announcement, Tai noted she would engage in talks with China about their failure to meet Phase 1 expectations, but also said a planned Phase 2 would not be implemented.

The reaction to the plan? It depends on who you ask:

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack: Vilsack was supportive of the new approach, noting that China has met 50 of the 57 Phase 1 agreements, but conceded Tai should “press the Chinese on fulfilling their responsibilities,” especially in the area of biotechnology trait approvals.

Senator Chuck Grassley (Iowa): Grassley said China was “making an effort,” but also opined: “It seems like the Biden administration, then without pursuing Phase 2, is throwing in the towel.”

Industry: Overall, multiple sectors expressed concern over the plan’s lack of foreseeable action. One trade economist out of Syracuse University summed it up as “her whole plan seems to be, ‘I’m going to have a conversation.'”