Chronicle Editorial

Iowans the losers in TPP pull out

     Within any policy change, there are winners and losers. Unfortunately, there is no perfect policy in which everyone wins, which makes the political game much more menacing and complicated that it appears. What is good for someone or some country, may not be good for another, or even for anyone.

     For this reason, politicians must carefully choose the winners and losers based on who can handle the loss better, either by withstanding through socioeconomic status, access to government help and subsidies or through the spoils of industry.

     Last week, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order withdrawing the U.S. from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP), making good on his campaign promise. TPP was a crucial debate point in both the primary elections of both parties, and the national election, with Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton publicly admitting that the current policy was not up to “the Gold Standard” of policies the agreement was set out to become. Even Democratic Primary Candidate Bernie Sanders ridiculed the agreement. The sentiment among all candidates was that the agreement hurt jobs.

     Whether or not the agreement hurt American jobs in the long run, or delegitimized American influence in the remaining 11 countries, is an editorial for another time. Many an article will be written about the fine print of the deal, but what really matters is the detriment to Iowans and the lifeblood of the state’s rural economy.

     According to a Des Moines Register article last week, $13.2 billion in goods were exported from Iowa in 2015; $7.8 billion of those exports were to countries involved with TPP. Through November 2016, Iowa had exported approximately $6.8 billion in commodities to those nations.

     Agricultural leaders across the country and many organizations within the state have spent years lobbying input to the deal that would benefit agricultural economies in the U.S., but that work seems to be all for naught. By withdrawing from the agreement, Iowa, and other leading agricultural states stand to lose more money, that the current three-year consecutive drop in income.

     In 2016, with declining surplus and commodity prices, income in agricultural states has drops 17 percent, with land values in Iowa continuing the slide, not seen since the 1980 farm crisis. About 15 percent of Iowa Pork is exported to Mexico. With the withdraw from TPP, a proposed tariff on Mexican imports to fund the building of a border wall along the country and a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, many farm organizations, companies and law makers in the story (including Farm Bureaus, Iowa Soybean Association and Sukup Manufacturing) have expressed hesitation and disappointment in the Trump Administration’s commitment to the withdraw.

     It is challenging to understand why the administration would make a decision that negatively impacts those that helped him get into office. While winners and losers are abounding in any deal, Iowans cannot withstand what should come of this one. When the lifeblood of its economy depends on exporting its products, and income and commodity values are in consecutively declining, a state loses.

     If the goal of the president is to create something better, it doesn’t appear that way, especially when international agreements take years to cultivate and do not respond well to withdraw. Average Iowans, the lifeblood and hard, diligent workers that make this state so great, must make room for their industry at the table. Manufacturing is important, but with an industry as large was agriculture, the country cannot afford to lose the heart of the heartland.