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Barrasso talks soda ash, beef and human rights


U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) questioned Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, President Trump’s nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador to China, on soda ash, beef exports and human rights. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held Branstad’s confirmation hearing today.

On Soda Ash:

“Many U.S. industries experience a wide variety of concerns surrounding China’s trade policies and practices.

“As we’ve discussed in this Committee, soda ash continues to face unfair trade practices from China, from other countries.

“The United States is the most competitive supplier of soda ash in the world, due to the abundance of the raw material called trona in the United States.

“In Wyoming, specifically the Green River Basin, is the world’s largest area for naturally-occurring trona.

“Soda ash is a key manufacturing component of glass, detergents, soaps, chemicals.

“China is seeking to capture the global market share from the United States soda ash producers, and they do it through unfair trade practices.

“China has given its own synthetic soda ash producers a significant rebate on China’s value added tax.

“So if confirmed, will you continue to work to highlight and eliminate market distorting subsidies like the value added tax rebate on soda ash exports that harm U.S. workers and U.S. producers?

On U.S. Beef Exports:

“And with regard to beef, the United States produces the highest quality beef in the world.

“While China lifted its ban on U.S. beef last September, some technical barriers have prevented U.S. beef from gaining access to the Chinese market.

“In April, I signed a letter on this critical issue to President Trump along with 38 other senators, including many members of this committee, bipartisan members of this committee: Senator Kaine has signed it, as well as Senators Risch and Gardner, and Young, and Paul, and Portman.

“The letter urged the administration to discuss opening the Chinese market to U.S. beef with the President of China during his visit to the United States.

“It is vital that we work to ensure that U.S. beef is traded fairly and trade barriers are eliminated there as well.

On Human Rights Violations:

“One final question, and it has to do with human rights and economic issues.

“China is the United States largest trading partner, in terms of great potential economic opportunities for businesses in the United States.

“But China continues to engage in what I believe are serious human rights abuses, including political and religious repression.

“So as Ambassador to China, can you just spend a little bit of time discussing how you’re going to balance engaging China on the economic front while also demonstrating our nation’s concerns about China’s human rights violations?”


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