U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) Discusses Geopolitical Situation, Trade, and Agriculture at Meridian

Ambassador Frédéric Edem Hegbe of Togo and Senator Chuck Grassley greeting each other after the Insights@Meridian with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) program at Meridian International Center on December 13, 2021. Photo by Kristoffer Triplaar.

On December 13, the Center for Diplomatic Engagement hosted an Insights@Meridian program with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), moderated by Ambassador Stuart Holliday, CEO of Meridian. 

Senator Grassley is the longest-serving Republican Senator currently in Congress and serves as Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee. He is also a key member of the Finance, Agriculture and Budget committees. 

Here are some top takeaways from this fireside chat:  

  1. BE WARY OF CHINA. A little over 20 years ago, Senator Grassley joined a bipartisan group of senators to vote in favor of China’s approval of Permanent Normal Trade Relations, which paved the way for their accession to the WTO. While the Senator believes that this helped reduce poverty in China and benefited U.S. agriculture, he has told Chinese officials he thinks this was a mistake. China has been a more active trade partner globally in recent years than the U.S. Yet, they do follow international norms or standards. What seems like benevolent deals often end in debt-trap diplomacy with the Chinese taking over critical infrastructure. He has emphasized China’s untrustworthiness to the international community through its usurpation of IPR, human rights abuses against the Uyghurs, and the breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration that should have maintained Hong Kong’s capitalist system and autonomy through 1947. In contrast, the Senator highlights that the U.S. looks for true partnerships where both sides win. 
  2. EXPANDING FREE TRADE. Senator Grassley is a proponent of free trade and believes strongly in  expanding markets. Now is the time to settle any existing trade disputes and expand free trade among all who believe in it as it can help improve the economies of all the countries involved.  While some may question the U.S. commitment to free trade given its reluctance to join key trade agreements like The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Senator Grassley recognizes the importance of trade partnerships. He characterized U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai’s recent visits to over 10 countries as a positive sign for the Biden administration advancing the United States commitment to open markets and establishing strong economic relationships with key allies and partners.
  3. ON UKRAINE AND TAIWAN. As a large number of Russian troops remain stationed on the border with Ukraine, Senator Grassley believes the U.S. should support the Eastern European country through the provision of substantial military equipment. He has less faith that further sanctions alone would be enough to deter Russia and believes that they would need to be much stronger and significant than anything employed to date. As for Taiwanese security, Senator Grassley disagrees with the longtime U.S. approach of strategic ambiguity. He would instead prefer the administration be very clear on how the U.S. would respond to any Chinese aggression towards the island nation. Like with Ukraine, he is in favor of providing considerable military equipment to Taiwan consistent with U.S. policy since 1979.
  4. BIG TECH: PROS AND CONS. In the early years of the internet age, Senator Grassley was keen to support web-based technology companies as a means to support important start-ups that could be beneficial to the economy and society. These companies have now grown monopolistic, however, and important questions on privacy and the misuse of data have arisen. To address this concern last month, Senator Grassley along with his fellow colleagues in the Senate introduced the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. The legislation aims to ensure that big tech will be held accountable and promotes competition by targeting harmful conduct while ensuring that innovative and pro-consumer conduct is protected.
  5. GMO CHAMPION. A longtime farmer, Senator Grassley spoke in favor of the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the agriculture sector. He underscores this point by regularly pulling out a bag of dry soybeans from his own farm and eating them while in meetings with foreign delegations, emphasizing the scientific evidence of their safety. He has been eating GMO soybeans for many years and serves as an individual laboratory/case study on their safety. Innovations in biotechnology that have led to GMOs have saved countless lives and ensure the world’s food security.  

This program is generously supported by Corteva Agriscience.


Project summary

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) Discusses Geopolitical Situation, Trade, and Agriculture at Meridian | December 2021
Regions: Africa, East Asia and Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, Western Hemisphere
Countries: Albania, Botswana, United States, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Estonia, Peru, Paraguay, Japan, Taiwan, Burkina Faso, Togo, United Kingdom, Colombia, Moldova, Poland, Zambia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein
Impact Areas: Business and Trade, Foreign Policy
Program Areas: Diplomatic Engagement
Partners: Private Sector, Public Sector