There are many irons in the fire when it comes to trade negotiations for U. S. agriculture. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is headed to China to continue trade negotiations this weekend. A lot of attention is also on an updated North American Free Trade Agreement. Ambassador Gregg Doud, Chief Agriculture Negotiator in the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), pointed out that when NAFTA was first agreed upon, the Internet didn’t exist. He said that makes it even more important that an updated three-nation agreement is the right fit for American agriculture.
“Our exports are somewhere in the neighborhood of $138-$140 billion a year now in US ag exports. NAFTA accounts for roughly $38 billion of that. So, just about whatever commodity you want to discuss, Canada and Mexico are two of the top four markets.”
While China, NAFTA, and trade potential with Japan and Southeast Asia are important, Doud adds that the USTR continues to search for new and different markets for future opportunities.
“One of the interesting areas of conversation that we’re having is with regard to Africa. And it’ll be interesting to see where we end up, but definitely some countries on the list in Africa that we’re taking a look at. On down the road here, next year obviously, there will be a very, very interesting conversation with the UK.”
Doud made his remarks during last week’s farm foundation forum in Washington, D.C.