For years now, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) has been pushing a simple, common-sense proposal related to the U.S. sugar program: Zero for Zero.
In essence, the resolution stipulates that the U.S. will eliminate its program of targeted tariffs and quotas on imported sugar in return for the elimination of government subsidies for foreign sugar producers. Zero tariffs for zero subsidies.
Opponents – primarily lobbyists for sweets and treats manufacturers who want to pad their bottom lines with subsidized/artificially cheap foreign sugar – have argued the proposal, as fair and reasonable as it might be, was unrealistic; that nobody would go for it.
But that was before Donald Trump became president.
On July 24 the president put out this tweet…
“The European Union is coming to Washington tomorrow to negotiate a deal on Trade. I have an idea for them. Both the U.S. and the E.U. drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies! That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade!”
That’s…zero for zero. And get this: The EU went for it!
Indeed, the very next day President Trump announced an historic agreement with the EU to avoid a “trade war.” An excerpt from the president’s remarks at a joint press conference with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker…
“Already today, the United States and the European Union have a $1 trillion bilateral trade relationship — the largest economic relationship anywhere in the world. We want to further strengthen this trade relationship to the benefit of all American and European citizens. This is why we agreed today, first of all, to work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods.”
That’s…zero for zero. The Yoho proposal critics have said no one would go for.
“We should be able to agree that no tariffs and no subsidies is a good deal for both sides,” writes columnist George Rasley. “If there was ever a time to press for the kind of free trade that conservative and libertarian-leaning politicians claim they are for it is now.
“Trump’s plan to seek freer, fairer, and more reciprocal trade when the United States is in a strong, and growing stronger, economic position is in the best interest of America’s taxpayers, producers, consumers and national security.”
Critics in Congress who claim a zero-for-zero free market/fair trade deal can’t be done should get out of the way of people who are actually doing it.