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Grassley Lays Out Senate Finance Committee Priorities for 2019

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley will once again chair the Senate Finance Committee in 2019 after a 12-year hiatus due to Republican Party term limits for committee chairmen. Sen. Grassley is clearly looking forward to returning to trade policy, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Finance Committee. On 20 December, he addressed the full U.S. Senate and discussed how important exports are to his home state of Iowa, which produces more soybeans and pork than can be consumed in the United States.

Sen. Grassley said he will focus on gaining access to new markets and assisting President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in tearing down barriers to U.S. exports, with the understanding that “creating market barriers of our own, like tariffs, is not a long-term solution.” Grassley admitted that he is not a “fan of tariffs” because they are taxes on U.S. consumers and businesses and added that Congress must “remain vigilant to ensure that the aspects of trade authority that Congress has delegated are used appropriately and in the best interests of our country.”

While Sen. Grassley is not opposed to being “creative” in negotiations with other countries, he expressed strong disagreement with the notion that imports of steel, aluminium, automobiles and automotive parts pose a threat to U.S. national security. Accordingly, as chairman of the Finance Committee the senior senator from Iowa intends to review President Trump’s use of power under Section 232 of the Trade Act of 1962.

By contrast, Sen. Grassley appears to generally support the imposition of Section 301 tariffs on mainland Chinese products, noting that while these tariffs “are not ideal” the reasons behind their application are sound. According to Grassley, “the President is absolutely right to confront China regarding section 301 findings” although the senator hopes the on-going negotiations “will result in a change in China’s discriminatory policies and practices and an easing of tariffs and tensions.”

Sen. Grassley added that in many ways he regrets voting in favour of mainland China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation because Beijing “has not lived up to its obligations or honored its promises, yet it enjoys many of the benefits that come with membership in the WTO.” He also questioned mainland China’s claim that it remains a developing country even though it is the world’s most populous nation and the second largest economy. Finally, Grassley supported on-going efforts to reform the WTO in order to ensure its proper functioning.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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