Government

Hubbell: Reynolds not standing up for Iowa in trade conflict

Fred Hubbell, democratic candidate for governor, speaks at IBEW Local, the electrician labor union in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at an event to organize with and train local supporters who will help canvas for the upcoming elections, on Sunday, June 10, 2018. (Hannah Schroeder/The Gazette)
Fred Hubbell, democratic candidate for governor, speaks at IBEW Local, the electrician labor union in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at an event to organize with and train local supporters who will help canvas for the upcoming elections, on Sunday, June 10, 2018. (Hannah Schroeder/The Gazette)

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is shrinking from defending Iowa businesses in the face of a “nonsensical trade war,” her Democratic rival, Fred Hubbell, said Monday.

In a news release, Hubbell said that he would work to increase exports to markets such as Canada, Mexico and China, “and I will speak out against any president, Democrat or Republican, that damages our ability to sell Iowa’s agricultural products abroad. Governor Reynolds is choosing party loyalty over Iowa’s businesses.”

Hubbell’s accusation that Reynolds is not doing enough comes as trade tensions escalated following the G-7 summit over the weekend, where President Donald Trump accused Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of being “dishonest and weak.”

The president has complained about Canadian policies toward U.S. dairy imports, part of a more aggressive trade posture that has targeted China, but also traditional allies.

The Trump administration has levied tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, China and the European Union, a move Mexico responded to last week with import duties on cheese and pork.

Canada is Iowa’s largest export market, followed by Mexico and Japan.

The governor has said she’s stressed to White House officials the importance of trade to Iowa agriculture and its other businesses. In April, she took part in a White House meeting with the president and said afterward he listened to the state’s concerns.

The Hubbell camp, though, says the trade conflict has worsened since then, and Reynolds hasn’t responded.

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“Governor Reynolds has always supported free and fair trade, and has stood up to members of both political parties, including the Trump White House, to get it done,” Pat Garrett, a spokesman for the Reynolds campaign, said Monday. “Mr. Hubbell must not have been paying attention, or he just wants to score points in an election year.”

Republicans traditionally have been for free trade policies, but Trump has shown a greater willingness to use tariffs to respond to countries he thinks are taking advantage of the U.S.

Earlier this month, the Des Moines Register, citing an Iowa State University economist, said growing trade worries had cut pork prices and cost Iowa farmers $560 million.

Already, the U.S., Canada and Mexico are in the midst of discussions over the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which was signed in the 1990s.

The president has criticized the deal and even threatened to pull out of it. So far, though, there has been no agreement, and some analysts have said they don’t think there will be one this year, as elections are looming.

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