Trade talks – not just for negotiators

Trade, it’s more in the news than the things we normally think of as news.

That said, we have been trying to balance it with everything else we cover for you at The Western Producer on a daily and weekly basis.

Technology, seed royalties, ministerial meetings and premiers’ get-togethers, and the condition of the crops here and in competing countries all get our editorial attention.

Of course, we also provide some of the rural culture that makes our home our heritage.

With the exception of the latter, trade seems to be the headline that emerges from most of these coverages. Whether it’s the European Union and CETA, the United States and NAFTA-2, or the USMCA, CMUSA or MCUSA, whatever you want to call it, or TPP, a CPTPP by any other name, they all seem to find their way into our news these days.

The Americans and the Chinese fight and oilseeds get crushed.

This week D’Arce McMillan’s column on page 8 speaks to trade, the markets and the global focus on the environment.

While trade has always been important, the past couple of years’ news show just how much of our agricultural world is hinged on it.

Tariffs on steel and aluminum applied by the Americans on Canada hit us in the pocketbook, but, ironically, they hit our southern cousin harder. That country’s attempt to negotiate trade deals in its favour might just be camouflage for a larger economic play of shortening up supply chains that may have become less profitable as they’ve gotten longer. It becomes harder to tax domestic success when it has moved to the lowest cost provider and it isn’t on your shores any more.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, a 100-year old, American non-profit research group, reported recently that American consumers paid an additional US$1.4 billion per month related to Chinese steel and aluminum tariffs since their government’s tariffs began.

Equipment maker Caterpillar told investors it expects the tariffs to cost it nearly $300 million this year, while engine builder Cummins expects to see new costs of $150 million.

Farmers can identify with new costs in industrial goods because many of them filter down to primary producers, who have no way to recoup the added expenses.

Expect us to continue reporting on all things agricultural, with a heavy helping of trade for some time to come.

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