“Common sense tells me that if you’re looking at a bureaucracy that was going to get something done on Feb. the 15th, and there’s 30 days of missed work, then it’s going to come out on March 15,” he said.
Grassley was speaking figuratively about the government shutdown’s potential impact on congressional USMCA consideration during a briefing with reporters in the U.S. Capitol. The International Trade Commission remains shuttered as it faces a March 15 deadline for submitting to Congress a likely economic impacts report on the USMCA required by Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation.
The government shutdown entered its 26th day Wednesday.
Grassley said the government shutdown will also likely delay the start of expected U.S. trade agreement negotiations with Japan and the EU past the available start dates of Jan. 20 and Feb. 10, respectively.
TPA provides for the executive branch to start trade agreement talks 30 days after releasing detailed objectives for intended talks. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Dec. 21 released objectives for planned U.S.-Japan talks, and on Friday, released objectives for planned U.S.-EU talks.
Grassley added that the Trump administration would have to work with Democrats to get USMCA passed, and that he assumed they would do so.
“I’m not speaking for them, but I think we all know that the plan is to start in the House,” Grassley said.
While Grassley said automotive tariffs “would be, not necessarily, the best thing to do,” he added he believes President Donald Trump is inclined to impose duties after the Commerce Department completes its Section 232 investigation—set for next month. If duties are levied,
Grassley said he hopes they can be used as a tool for negotiating with the EU.
Trump is due to decide on any duties to impose on automobiles and/or auto parts in May.
“Europe, I think, is very, very concerned about those tariffs, and it’s going to maybe be the instrument that gets Europe to negotiate,” Grassley said.
He stressed the importance of including agriculture in U.S.-EU talks to EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom during a meeting with her last week in Washington, despite the EU’s wishes to omit that sector from talks.
Including agriculture will be important for any U.S.-EU trade agreement to secure Senate approval, Grassley said.
Grassley said he believes steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico, and Section 301 tariffs on China have helped the U.S. during negotiations.
He isn’t sure why the Trump administration is still imposing metal tariffs on Canada and Mexico after concluding the NAFTA renegotiation, but they likely won’t come off unless the countries agree to a quota, he said.