Nebraskan once immersed in trade deals won’t say US is in a trade war…yet

June 14, 2018 GMT

LINCOLN - A Nebraskan who has negotiated major trade deals won’t say we’re in a trade war, yet.

This is the second part of a two-part series.

We asked Darci Vetter, former chief agriculture negotiator at the U.S. Trade Office, whether we are in a trade war.

“That phrase I think is really tempting to use,” Vetter tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We are certainly already in a period where we are starting to look at trade in a zero-sum sort of way. So, if I win, you lose.”

Vetter worked as diplomat in residence at the Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance at the University of Nebraska before leaving to join Edelman in Washington, D.C. She now serves as an advisory for the Yeutter Institute.

Vetter agrees the US is right to point out the trade abuses of China, but argues tariffs to protect one American industry will only be answered by tariffs against another American industry.

“What is means to win a trade war I think is in the eye of the beholder or the particular industry that may like your action, but it’s rarely without consequence,” according to Vetter.

Vetter reasons the U.S. would be in a better position to address the trade abuses of China if it joined with other countries. On its own, the U.S. risks helping one industry while exposing other industries to retaliatory measures.

Vetter negotiated the agriculture portion of the Trans Pacific Partnership and is disappointed the United States pulled out of TPP. She points out the 11 countries involved in TPP have moved on without the United States.

Other countries are doing likewise.

Vetter says while the United States has adopted a protectionist posture, the European Union and Japan have completed a trade deal. Australia and Japan have been reaping the benefits of a trade agreement now in place. U.S. partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, have moved ahead with negotiations with the European Union. In sum, according to Vetter, the major trading partners of the United States are working to break down trade barriers while the U.S. is working to erect them.

Vetter says she would like to see the United States move from a defensive posture to one of engagement in global markets.