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Trump Administration Releases NAFTA Objectives


The White House released its objectives for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement on Monday afternoon. There were not a lot of surprises in the document, with heavy emphasis placed on reducing trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. One of the biggest goals that agriculture wanted was to maintain duty-free status on agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada, something included in the plan released on Monday. The 18-page Summary of Objectives includes the need to eliminate non-tariff barriers to U.S. agricultural exports. The administration also wants to promote greater regulatory compatibility to reduce burdens associated with unnecessary differences in regulation.

This may be good news for U.S. dairy producers who are upset over Canada’s pricing policy that hurts American cheese exports and other dairy products. The U.S. Trade Representative’s plan also wants negotiators to find a way to prevent sanitary and phytosanitary barriers from blocking exports. Those kinds of barriers have been preventing America’s potato farmers from expanding exports further into Mexico. The new plan stresses the administration’s goal of updating and strengthening the rules of origin laws, however, it doesn’t ask for a reinstatement of Country of Origin Labeling on beef and pork.

House Ag Committee Chair Michael Conaway of Texas reacted positively to the U.S. Trade Representative’s objectives for the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. The plan details how the administration wants to expand market opportunities and tighten enforcement of existing trade obligations to protect U.S. producers. “The administration’s objectives for renegotiating NAFTA clearly demonstrate a commitment to protecting market access while outlining ways to level the playing field,” says Conaway.

National Association of Wheat Growers President David Schemm says they are pleased that the objectives call for maintaining existing reciprocal duty-free market access and they don’t want to do harm to existing trade relationships. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association reacted positively as well, saying the overall renegotiation goals are good for the beef industry because they encourage the continuation of terms that have benefitted the industry for decades. Those terms include duty-free access and science-based sanitary and phytosanitary standards. NCBA President Craig Uden says, “It’s difficult to improve on duty-free, unlimited access to Mexico and Canada. We’re pleased that objectives include maintaining that reciprocal duty-free market access for agricultural goods.”

Source: NAFB News Service