WASHINGTON — The White House should re-affirm the primary role of the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office in representing U.S. trade interests and press China to accept U.S. pork and beef based on sound science and trade rules, urged Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa on July 21.
Mr. Grassley, the ranking member of the Committee on Finance, with jurisdiction over international trade, wrote in a letter to President Obama he was concerned that agencies, including the State Department, may be seeking to displace the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office on trade matters, contrary to a congressionally established functional division more than 45 years ago.
"I am concerned that the role of the U.S. Trade Representative as principal advisor to the President regarding the development and articulation of U.S. trade policy is being undermined by the pronouncements and efforts of other agencies, in particular the State Department," he wrote. "Such other departments within the Executive Branch necessarily seek to advance their own priorities that, while certainly important, may result in undue subordination of our nation’s trade interests. I urge you to reaffirm the lead role of the U.S. Trade Representative in negotiating all trade matters on behalf of your Administration."
When meeting with a visiting delegation from China next week as part of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Mr. Grassley urged Administration officials to discuss China’s continued barriers to exports of U.S. pork and beef. "These scientifically unfounded barriers negatively impact producers in my home state of Iowa," Mr. Grassley said.
He pointed out China bans imports of U.S. pork due to alleged concerns about the H1N1 virus. "Yet, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (O.I.E.), the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the H1N1 virus is not transmitted through food," he added. "These international organizations further state that there is no scientific justification for trade restrictions on pork and pork products on account of this virus."
China also prohibits imports of U.S. beef due to alleged concerns over bovine spongiform encephalopathy. "Yet, the O.I.E. recognizes that U.S. boneless and bone-in beef derived from cattle of all ages can be traded safely due to safeguards undertaken by the United States," Mr. Grassley wrote.