It’s no surprise to Congressman Roger Marshall the concerns his constituents have during his trips back to Kansas center on the elevators full of grain that dot the Big First district.
“Trade and the farm bill, that is all I’ve heard about now when I do my town halls,” Marshall told Kansas Agland Thursday afternoon.
On Thursday, he met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s chief of staff, Jamieson Greer, to talk about some of the trade issues, including the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Marshall’s office expects to have a list of President Donald Trump’s negotiating objectives by Monday as leaders rewrite the deal.
Marshall said the administration wants to finish negotiations sooner rather an later - particularly before there are political changes in Mexico.
Mexico has presidential elections next year and one candidate has threatened tougher trade with the United States.
The United States currently has free trade agreements in 20 countries, which account for $5.4 billion, or 45 percent, of Kansas’ export in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. From 2005 to 2014, exports from Kansas to these markets grew by 60 percent, with NAFTA, as well as trade to Peru, Korea and Columbia showing the largest dollar growth.
The state's largest market is Canada, with exports totally $2.5 billion in 2014. Mexico is second, with exports totally $1.8 million.
As Marshall points out, Kansas has a big stake in NAFTA. Mexico is the largest market for Kansas crops, accounting for $520 million, or 37 percent of the state’s exports. About 99 percent of corn exports and 16 percent of beef exports go to Mexico.
Marshall called his conversation with Greer refreshing. Trump’s concern has been the loss of manufacturing jobs, said Marshall. But, he is encouraged that the agriculture portion of NAFTA should remain intact.
“I don’t hear anyone championing a border adjustment tax either, which could cause some collateral damage,” he said.