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If it involves Russia it must be bad.
That seems to be the public reasoning behind Senator Marco Rubio’s push for new tariffs against phosphate fertilizers — yes, phosphate fertilizers — imported from Russia.
As the Trade Alliance to Promote Prosperity put it, Rubio wants the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Commerce Department under Secretary Wilbur Ross to impose “Russia bogeyman tariffs.”
Admittedly, this isn’t a sexy issue. This is probably the last thing that reporters and columnists want to write about, at least outside a few trade-specific outlets that cover these sorts of things.
If someone from the drive-by media actually reported this story they would discover that Rubio’s support for the tariffs is at the behest of the Florida-based Mosaic Company, which has a monopoly over U.S. phosphate fertilizers.
The proposed tariffs of up to 70% on phosphate fertilizers imported from Russia and Morocco are beyond absurd. There is no legitimate reason to levy them, especially with respect to Morocco.
Morocco has been of immense geopolitical importance in the Middle East and North Africa for several years. Then there is the recent facilitation of diplomatic and peace agreements between Israel and Muslim countries by President Donald J. Trump.
I’m also willing to bet that many in the Swamp don’t realize that the United States and Morocco have been friends since the earliest days of our country. This is hardly the way to reward an old friend that, unlike certain European countries, is actually relevant in foreign affairs these days.
The tariffs jeopardize U.S. relations with strategically important partners like Morocco, hurt American farmers, negatively impact the food supply chain and raise prices for grocery store customers.
Thankfully, Senators John Boozman, John Cornyn, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Deb Fischer, Jerry Moran, Ben Sasse, Roger Wicker and Todd Young understand this and oppose the Russia bogeyman tariffs.