King voices worries about trade war
By BILL SHEA
U.S. Rep. Steve King is among those watching with concern as an escalating exchange of tariffs in the global trade market appears to pose a threat to Iowa’s farm economy.
“I have signifcant apprehension about it,” the Republican from Kiron said Monday during an address to the Fort Dodge Rotary Club at Willow Ridge Golf Course, 1788 Madison Ave.
The United States and China have recently levied tariffs on each other’s products, but King noted that an Iowan is in a unique position to help resolve the situation. Former Gov. Terry Branstad is now the United States’ ambassador to China.
“If this can be worked out and smoothed over, the relentless work ethic of Terry Branstad would be very useful,” King said.
Tariffs and trade disputes haven’t been the subject of debate or headlines for some time, according to the congressman.
“We’ve been so committed to free trade for so long that we haven’t seen too many of these moves made,” he said. “It looks like we have the most intense trade positions that we have seen in our adult lifetimes going on right now.”
The situation started when President Donald Trump recently imposed a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. Canada and Mexico were exempted from those tariffs, which King said made those countries open to the possibility of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Trump then imposed tariffs on China. That nation retaliated with tariffs on American products that were announced last weekend.
“It looks to me like the stage is set for a trade war,” King said. “We won’t probably know the impact of this until we see it in the rearview mirror.”
“I am significantly apprehensive about the Chinese retaliatory tariffs that they’ve slapped on,” he added.
Despite the trade woes, King said he believes the American economy is poised for a “long period of sustained growth” thanks to the tax cuts enacted last year. He predicated perhaps a decade of 3 percent growth.
King said a new farm bill will be unveiled this month. He said that among other things, the bill will likely tie payments in the Conservation Reserve Program to a percentage of the current cash rent prices in each county. The Conservation Reserve Program pays farmers for taking highly erosion prone land out of production.
When a member of the audience asked him about the most interesting thing he experienced in the lasy year, King recounted how he helped secure medical care in the United States for three children from Tanzania who were seriously injured in a bus crash last year. He said he worked with the Rev. Franklin Graham to get children flown to Sioux City.
Months later, he was present in Tanzania when the children were welcomed home in a three-hour ceremony.
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