Tioga County commissioner Erick Coolidge sat in the audience to witness President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He sign the China Phase One Trade Agreement in the White House on Jan. 15.

Coolidge was invited to attend through his involvement with the Dairy Farmers of America, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania and as a dairy farmer. The agreement, he said, could bring about economic advantages to the agricultural industry along with associated industry, including financial, automobile, corporations, commerce, even eBay.

“What made this so incredibly exciting was being a part of history for a trade agreement of this magnitude,” said Coolidge.

The agreement with China was one of three signed recently, including an agreement with Japan and another with Mexico and Canada. It will help shore up some of the challenges for dairy farmers and allow consumers to buy with confidence knowing where food is sourced, he said.

“What it does is ensure for all of us that there is available to us, as consumers, of quality products at a fair price with the assurance that it can be consumed and not imported,” said Coolidge, adding that the U.S. was importing fuel not that long ago. “These types of forward-moving efforts in the economic are active and effective and are beneficial to every citizen and the nation as a whole.”

The agreement “levels the playing field” by removing tariffs and protecting intellectual property, he added. It lays the groundwork for the Phase Two agreement to further benefit both country and remove additional tariffs.

“He has no fear of challenging what has always been,” said Coolidge about the president. “Like his style or not, it is effective. It’s not about opinions. It’s about getting things done and the outcome and results.”

Coolidge said three things left an impression.

First, both nations and leaders expressed their concern for the people they represent and the need for each side to “give” when coming to an agreement.

Next, the agreement will stabilize world economics as it involves the two largest economies working in cooperation to create fair trade and, ultimately, peace, he said.

Lastly, a chance meeting with a legendary negotiator left an impression. Coolidge said he was waiting to have breakfast with the DFA president when the elevator door opened, he looked up and immediately rose to his feet. “Hello, sir,” said Coolidge as Henry Kissinger walked by.

A few minutes later, Kissinger’s aide walked back and Coolidge approached him, noting that he wanted to thank the former Secretary of State for his service and presented his card to pass along.

Still later while walking to the security gates, he heard Kissinger’s walker behind him, turned, and was introduced to Kissinger by the aide. The two shook hands. Coolidge thanked him and Kissinger responded, “Thank you and that means a great deal to me.”

President Trump also expressed respect for Kissinger, saying “If Mr. Kissinger believes we have a good deal, I know we have a good deal.”