Former Indiana Department of Agriculture Director Ted McKinney says he’s "bullish" that some of the steel and aluminum tariff issues that have fueled trade tensions could "sunset" in the coming weeks and months as countries negotiate with the United States. McKinney, who now serves as U.S. Department of Agriculture under secretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, says China has caused many of the trade issues through overproduction and "cheating their way through a lot of their business."
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman during a day of events Wednesday at the Indiana State Fair, McKinney said he believes the tariffs will be worth "the short-term pain."
McKinney says "significant overproduction" by China is negatively impacting U.S. steel businesses.
"For sure, there are some higher prices for some people that buy steel," said McKinney, "but we’re seeing production slow in other parts of the world, or at least they’re not going have that unfettered access to the U.S."
He adds China has also caused problems in the global agriculture industry, saying they have stolen seed and biotechnology advancements developed in the United States. In addition, he says China’s growing appetite and income are shaking up markets. Ag trade tensions with the Asian nations, McKinney says, will hit soybean producers especially hard, since 40 percent of all U.S. soybeans go to China.
However, McKinney says he has become more optimistic over the last 10 days about the outcome of the tariff policies. High-level executives from the European Union and Japan have recently met with President Donald Trump, and negotiations continue with Mexico and Canada over NAFTA. In addition, McKinney says he is "canvassing the world" in hopes of developing or opening up new or newer markets.
President Trump last year nominated McKinney for the U.S. Department of Agriculture role. At the time, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue said McKinney would be an "unapologetic advocate for U.S. products in the world marketplace." Prior to leading the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, McKinney spent decades in leadership roles for companies including Dow AgroSciences and Elanco.