Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, issued the following statement on reports that exports of U.S. crude oil to China have been reduced in the wake of the Trump administrations’ trade war:
“With U.S oil production on the rise, our oil industry should be seeing a boon in exports to countries like China where demand is high.
“Instead, the administration’s trade war has caused China to curtail imports of U.S. oil, and it is instead buying oil from our competitors and adversaries like Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“This isn’t just a missed opportunity – it’s a self-inflicted wound to one of the most important industries to North Dakota’s economy.
“After I helped lead the fight to successfully lift the 40-year old ban on exporting U.S. oil, I’ll continue to fight to protect access to markets for North Dakota’s oil industry to protect jobs and prosperity in our state.”
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CNBC reports that China, the second largest buyer of U.S. crude, completely stopped importing U.S. oil in August, a bad sign for oil producing regions like the Bakken. Tariffs have also depressed the price of crude oil, threatening prosperity in regions that depend on a robust energy industry.
With the U.S. refineries at capacity and unable to process much more crude oil, growth in the industry is dependent on exporting U.S. crude, and the Bakken is poised to help drive that growth – if there’s a market for U.S. oil in countries like China.
The administration’s tariffs on aluminum and steel are also having negative ripple effects across the industry, which relies on machinery and equipment produced in countries singled out for tariffs, raising costs for U.S. producers. Earlier this year Heitkamp cosponsored bipartisan legislation to repeal the steel and aluminum tariffs, and she helped introduce bipartisan legislation to require congressional approval of tariffs designated for national security reasons, like the steel and aluminum tariffs.
Heitkamp played a central role in negotiating the bipartisan deal that led to the 40-year old ban on exporting oil being lifted in 2015, which led to record levels of U.S. crude oil exports earlier this year before the administration’s trade war escalated. For more than a year and a half, Heitkamp worked with Republican U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska to build support for lifting the ban, reach a deal to gain bipartisan support for it, and get enough votes to change this outdated policy. Click here for a timeline of her work to lift the ban.
Heitkamp has been proactively fighting for smart trade policies to protect North Dakota’s economy. From the beginning of the NAFTA renegotiation, she has pushed for a quick resolution to the talks in a way that strengthens U.S. agriculture and preserves market access to North Dakota’s top two trading partners. She has taken action by:
* Pressing top officials since the beginning of this administration to protect and expand markets for North Dakota goods. Heitkamp has met with the U.S. Agriculture Secretary (USDA), U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), U.S Commerce Secretary, and many other top U.S. administration officials – many of them several times – to explain that the U.S. needs smart trade policies to allow our farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers to reach new markets – not tariffs, uncertainty with NAFTA, or hostility toward our top trading partners. Heitkamp recently pushed for improvements to the aid package for farmers suffering from slumping commodity prices and an uncertain future for this season’s crop. In February 2017, when she first met with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, when he was a nominee for the position, the bulk of their conversation focused on trade. Heitkamp recently pushed Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, on the impact of the administration’s trade war on the U.S. economy. Powell agreed that imposing tariffs over a sustained period time is the wrong thing to do for the economy.
* Engaging with North Dakota’s critical trading partners like Canada and Mexico. In frequent meetings and phone calls with the Mexican and Canadian Ambassadors to the U.S., Heitkamp has worked to protect the trade relationships that keep North Dakotas export-dependent economy thriving. She recently coordinated a meeting between North Dakota farmers and ranchers and the Mexican ambassador to help maintain their trade relationship amid the uncertainty caused by the administration’s trade war and NAFTA renegotiation.
* Supporting bipartisan legislation to stop tariffs. Heitkamp joined U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) leading a bipartisan group of eight other senators in introducing legislation to require congressional approval of tariffs designated for national security reasons. Heitkamp also cosponsored bipartisan legislation introduced by Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona to nullify the aluminum and steel tariffs.
* Introducing legislation to help farmers and ranchers recover losses they face because of the administration’s trade war. In July, Heitkamp introduced legislation that would make Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) available – at no additional cost to the existing TAA program – to farmers and producers whose exports are hurt by retaliatory tariffs caused by the administration’s trade policies. She also introduced a bill to direct funds the government is collecting from tariffs on imported goods toward trade promotion assistance to help open new markets for farmers and ranchers hurt by the trade war.
* Gaining input from North Dakotans. Heitkamp has regularly met with folks from North Dakota impacted by trade, including recent meetings in Washington with North Dakota growers of soybeans, corn, barley, and other commodities, as well as manufacturers and small business owners. She has held a series of meetings across the state to gain input from North Dakotans in agriculture, energy, and manufacturing. And she recently launched a web survey to gain input from North Dakotans to help inform how she can best push back on the administration’s actions on trade.
* Outlining her agenda to strengthen and protect North Dakota’s economy. During a meeting with USTR Robert Lighthizer earlier this year, Heitkamp laid out her top four priorities to support North Dakota workers, farmers, and businesses by enabling them to export their products abroad, and recently spoke out against the administration’s escalating trade war with China, which also threatens North Dakota’s main industries – energy, agriculture, and manufacturing.
* Raising concerns about impacts of retaliatory tariffs on the manufacturing industry. Heitkamp toured WCCO Belting, Inc. in Wahpeton this summer and heard firsthand the concerns the North Dakota manufacturer has about trade wars and its ability to export its goods. Over half of WCCO’s sales are to international customers, making trade an essential part of its business model.
* Speaking out against tariffs and uncertainty regarding NAFTA that would put the state’s economy at risk. Heitkamp has met with farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers across North Dakota to talk about the need for smart trade policies that support North Dakota. She penned op-eds in March 2017 and again in April 2018 making the case. In February, she also did an episode on her podcast, The Hotdish, about NAFTA and the importance of trade for agriculture. For the episode, she interviewed the former U.S. agricultural trade negotiator and a North Dakota barley farmer. Heitkamp recently brought a group of North Dakota agriculture leaders to the Mexican Embassy in Washington to talk about the importance of NAFTA and reinforce their commitment to a strong relationship with their customers in Mexico
* Pressing for analysis about the impact of the administration’s trade policies on small businesses. Heitkamp called on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s(SBA) Office of Advocacy to analyze the impact of the administration’s tariff policies on American small businesses. Small businesses represent nearly 99 percent of all businesses in North Dakota, and support nearly 60 percent of all jobs in the state, according to SBA.
This article provided by NewsEdge.