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Trump Withdrawal From Asia Trade Pact Could Impact State's Ag Exports

Richard Drew / AP

Richard Drew / AP

On Monday, President Donald Trump made good on a campaign promise by abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The trade pact negotiated by former President Obama involved 11 nations.

Economic experts don't agree on what the move means for the state's farm industry.

If you followed President Trump's campaign rhetoric on trade then his withdrawal from TPP was not surprising news.

For international trade economist Jock O'Connell, it wasn't good news for California either.

"The expectation that maybe, in the fullness of time, Donald Trump will be able to sit down and negotiate a new, more favorable trade agreement with anybody else is something that is going to likely take a fairly long period of time," says O'Connell.

In the meantime, O'Connell argues, California will miss out on chances to increase exports and other business opportunities abroad.

But UC agricultural economist Dan Sumner sees the situation differently. He's optimistic the Trump administration will now forge individual or bi-lateral deals making it easier for the U.S. to trade with Pacific Rim nations.

He says TPP's 'advantage' was that it handled a lot of countries at once.

"The disadvantage when you do these big agreements is that you end up getting the lowest common denominator," says Sumner. "So if Japan doesn't want to allow rice, that sets rice off the table. And if Canada doesn't want to do dairy products then dairy products are off the table and on down the line."

Sumner's advice to the Trump administration, the U.S. should move quickly to make a trade pact with Japan. Working with what was already in TPP and seeing what else can be done to open markets for both countries.

As Sumner points out - trade is a two-way street.




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