Staying engaged: MSGA submits National Trade Estimate to Congress

Each year the United States Trade Representative (USTR) requests comments concerning trade barriers to publish in their 700-page National Trade Estimate (NTE) Report on foreign trade barriers. For the second consecutive year, the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association has submitted multiple comments to the NTE Report.

“Trade restrictions have damaged the bottom lines of Midwest farmers for several years now, and we continue to feel strong action is needed,” MSGA Executive Director Joe Smentek said. “Our comments outline the ways in which officials at the USTR can make sure China and other trade partners uphold the rules of the World Trade Organization.” 

MSGA understands the need to speak on some specific trade barriers. Upper Midwest farmers rely heavily on soybean exports. MSGA estimates that the removal of two China trade barriers alone will increase U.S. exports of soybeans and processed soybean products by more than $500 million annually.

MSGA submitted five trade barriers and restrictions, though the organization believes there are currently more than 90 such issues. 

“We know that there are dozens of trade barriers that are damaging U.S. soy exports,” said Kim Nill, Minnesota Soybean’s director of market development. “However, we need to have the documentation and proof to be able to submit comments on all of the issues.”

The work continues

Following MSGA’s comments, USTR will combine and summarize all submitted comments to create its annual NTE Report that USTR then utilizes as a literal “to do” list during the subsequent 12 months as it negotiates trade agreements and works to remove barriers against all U.S. exports around the world.

“We are consistently engaged with USTR, and we look forward to ensuring the voice of our members is heard by elected officials and agency leaders in Washington, D.C.,” Smentek said. 

Following its submission to Congress, the NTE is available to the public by April of each year. MSGA has also makes it a point to continue a dialogue with nations following the NTE. In November, Smentek will travel to the United Kingdom, where he will meet with trade officials to discuss MSGA’s comments. Removal of three U.K. trade barriers could increase U.S. soy exports by up to $25 million each year. 

“Our work doesn’t stop with written comments,” Smentek said. “MSGA follows up with actions.”                                  

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