USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney is in Mexico this week for their largest food and drink trade show in Guadalajara. He is joining U.S. companies who made the trip in an effort to increase export sales. McKinney said that the trip was successful from that standpoint, and he received plenty of feedback regarding USMCA, the trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada to replace NAFTA.
“We heard a lot of people, not just our US friends but their customers, being very upbeat about USMCA. Both the likelihood of its passage down here and how the agreement came out in the end. That was uplifting to me.”
McKinney echoed Secretary Perdue’s message from last week regarding the steel and aluminum tariffs levied against Mexico and Canada and the hope that they are removed quickly. He says many don’t understand that the tariffs were put in place because the steel and aluminum industry in the U.S. was on “life support”.
“And that’s not good for a country like the U.S. But time has passed. Our understanding is that the health of those industries has been restored at some level. So, let’s just get them lifted, particularly on our USMCA partners, and see trade restored. Now there’s still been a lot of trade north of the border and south of the border, but the margins are almost nonexistent, and you can only do that for so long.”
McKinney stressed his great willingness and desire to continue working to gain more access in the Mexican market. He said he has told his team that with Mexico, it’s whatever it takes. If he had to travel back there next week to seize an opportunity, he would do it.
“This market is that important. Now, the reality is, it won’t be that quick. But if that’s what it took, we’ll be here. We have to take care of our friends in Mexico because I think they were great partners in the coming together of USMCA and I think we’re seeing it and feeling it here.”
McKinney was asked if he had any updates on trade negotiations with China. He said right now it’s just a lot of work to get words down on an agreement, not a Memorandum of Understanding he’s been told. He added that talks are going well.