WTO decision moves the ball on China-U.S. standoff

It comes as no surprise that China engages in unfair trade practices, and with its agriculture driven economy, these unfair practices can have a powerful impact on North Dakota.

That’s why the World Trade Organization ruling in favor of the United States in a dispute with China over agriculture subsidies is so important to our state. Last week, the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body found China exceeded domestic support limits for wheat and rice producers.

The federal government asserts that it believes China will fall into line.

Corn was included in the draft of the initial U.S. complaint but the WTO said corn prices fell in line with the limits before the American complaint was filed – perhaps demonstrating that China can be pressured into making necessary fair trade changes.

N.D. Senator Kevin Cramer pointed out the leveling of the playing field for North Dakota producers as a result of the decision. Farmers leading the state’s “wheat resurgence” will no longer have to compete with an oversubsidized foreign market.

Both other members of the state’s D.C. delegation offered similar observations. China’s manipulation of markets has been a major point of contention between the two nations for years. That trade conflict has accelerated since President Donald Trump made fair trade a major policy goal for his administration.

Perhaps this is a good sign and the hard-ball tactics of the Trump White House is working, or at least convincing China that D.C. is not backing away from the issue.

The WTO’s decision is a sound one that should benefit North Dakota agriculture.

Let’s hope there are other wins for fair trade in the future.