Noem to visit White House for signing ‘phase one’ China trade agreement

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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Gov. Kristi Noem will be traveling to Washington D.C. on Wednesday for the signing of “phase one,” of a trade agreement between the U.S. and China.

“There’s no question last year was a hard year for our farmers. But when times get tough, our people stand together. South Dakotan farmers pressed on,” Noem said in her State of the State address Tuesday.

Noem will go with South Dakota soybean producer Jerry Schmitz and pork producer Craig Andersen to the White House.

The governer calls this agreement a win for South Dakota producers.

“Knowing first-hand the relentless effort that is needed to negotiate trade deals, I have a deep appreciation for our President’s leadership and commitment to mend the U.S-China trade relationship,” Noem said.

In a media briefing after her address to the legislature, Noem said she was invited to the White House by Trump. Noem said she asked to bring along the farmers.

“This phase one is a big win for South Dakota producers. It has provisions in it that directly open up access and remove tariffs on our ag products,” Noem said. “What we do the best is feed the world.”

While she said this will give South Dakota producers immediate opportunities to market its goods, there is more ahead.

“Now, is everything finalized and negotiated with China? No. There’s other elements, other industries and other negotiations that still need to happen,” Noem said.

The governor, who used to work with Trump while in Congress, said she will also be discussing the meth epidemic and waivers for some federal opioid funds to be used for meth, Indian Health Service problems and the 2019 natural disasters, specifically related to tribal land.

“That’s the one thing is that, in South Dakota, while we’re a very independent state, while we balance our budget and make wise decisions, we do have a federal land presence in our state,” Noem said.

The phase one deal, according to The White House, requires structural reforms and other changes to China in the areas of intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services, and currency and foreign exchange.

The White House said that the agreement also includes a commitment by China that it will make substantial additional purchases of U.S. goods and services in the coming years.

The U.S. will keep 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports, along with 7.5 percent tariffs on $120 billion worth of Chinese imports.

In 2018, South Dakota exported $48 million in goods to China, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Industry leaders have said it’s hard to estimate the exact financial burden caused by the trade war in South Dakota, given the wet weather this year.

However, President Donald Trump promised big returns to farmers from the Oval Office in December. He said that Chinese farm purchases would hit $50 billion per year.

South Dakota and rural America have been hit hard by the trade war. China retaliated against Trump’s tariffs by taxing $120 billion in U.S. exports, including soybeans and other farm products.

The Wednesday signing at the White House is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. (CT).