US trade agreement with China could be good news for Alabama

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama officials believe the new trade agreement between the United States and China could mean big things for the state economy, especially when it comes to automotive and farming. 

Last fall was a challenging year for Alabama farmers, up against a drought and tariffs.

“You just have to adapt and do what you need to do to make it work to roll into next year and hope that things are better next year,” cattle farmer Rachel Yeargan said.

Farmers are hoping the new trade deal with China puts more money in their pockets and less worry on tariffs.

“We’ve not had a shipment of poultry go to china since 2014 and the shipment just arrived this week,” said Mitt Walker of the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Walker said China could double the amount of imports that they are taking from the U.S.

The Alabama Department of Commerce said shipments of Alabama-made vehicles to China fell sharply within the last 11 months, down 32%. Alabama is the country’s No. 3 auto-exporting state.

The U.S. first imposed tariffs on imports from China based on the findings of the Section 301 investigation on China’s acts, policies, and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation, according to the USTR.

Alabama’s Sectary of Commerce Greg Canfield was among a limited number of U.S. business and government leaders invited to the historic ceremony, which marks a cooling in trade tensions between the world’s two largest economic powers.

“We were very engaged with educating the Trump administration on the impact that a prolonged trade dispute with China would take and the toll it would take and the toll it would take on Alabama exports, which means Alabama jobs,” Canfield said.

Canfield said Alabama farmers stand to benefit from the trade deal. In 2016, Alabama exports of soybeans and peanuts to China approached $285 million, according to data from the Alabama Department of Commerce. In 2018, those shipments dropped to $20 million.


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