Former Ag Secretary Mike Johanns says China is feeling pressure to make trade deal

January 23, 2019

Former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns remembers the frustration of negotiating with Chinese officials over intellectual property issues, then walking outside in Beijing and seeing cheaper knockoffs of American products sold on the streets.

That’s part of the reason that he’s glad to see the Trump administration address trade issues, Johanns said in an interview this week.

But Johanns, now the agriculture chairman for alliantgroup, also said the agriculture industry is feeling Trump’s tariffs.

“It’s very real,” said the former Nebraska governor and senator. “It drives prices down, it affects the general psychology of the marketplace.”

But he added: “It’s easy to be critical, but the reality is that these issues have been around for a very long time.”

Johanns served as agriculture secretary during the George W. Bush administration. And he, like many other Nebraska Republicans, said he sees good and bad in Trump’s trade policy.

The bad is that the agricultural economy in Nebraska and around the country relies on exports. And as Johanns said, “for every action there’s a reaction.” Meaning, when Trump imposes tariffs on other countries’ products, those countries do the same to American goods.

Still, Johanns said he’s optimistic. He described several rounds of negotiations with the Chinese and other foreign governments, with little result. Trump’s hardball tactics, he said, seem to be working.

“The pressure is on the Chinese to make a deal,” Johanns said.

Update hourly