Canada rejoins talks with U.S. and Mexico over NAFTA
As Canada rejoined the talks with the United States and Mexico on rewriting the North American Free Trade Agreement today in hopes of finishing an agreement by the end of the week, U.S. agriculture groups continued to express their views on the agreement with Mexico announced Monday.
They also addressed the issue of whether Canada will be part of a new agreement or whether the Trump administration will try to achieve separate agreements with the two countries.
Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo said at a news conference Monday that while the negotiations continue, the U.S. tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum and the Mexican tariffs on U.S. farm products will remain in place, Politico reported.
And Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., warned President Donald Trump not to withdraw from NAFTA before he has won congressional approval of a new deal involving all three countries, Politico noted.
“To use (the presidential) trade promotion authority’s ‘fast-track’ procedures, the administration must also reach an agreement with Canada,” Toomey said in a statement.
“NAFTA was a tri-party agreement only made operative with legislation enacted by Congress. Any change, such as NAFTA’s termination, would require additional legislation from Congress. Conversion into a bilateral agreement would not qualify for TPA’s ‘fast track’ procedures and would therefore require 60 votes in the Senate.”
Although the auto industry is expected to be the biggest issue in the U.S.-Canadian negotiations, Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, told Fox News today that President Donald Trump would accept only “a good deal with Canada.”
“That good deal, by the way, has to include, among other things, intellectual property rights, but also it’s got to include the dairy farm stuff.”
“There’s a word that Canada has trouble with and it’s M-I-L-K. Milk. Anything to do with milk and dairy — they have this government-run, centrally planned system and some tariffs run upwards of 300 percent. They’re going to have to fix that,” he said.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan. — “I thank President Trump for his work to improve trade relations with one of our top trading partners.”
“I am eager to learn more of the details of the new U.S.-Mexico trade deal. The value of U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico has increased by 305 percent since NAFTA entered into force; farmers and ranchers need to be able to rely on that important market. I’m hopeful the administration will move quickly on securing a beneficial trade deal with Canada in the coming days.”
Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore. — “The president’s track record on trade is clear; the announcements are splashy, but they fail to deliver concrete results for American workers.”
“NAFTA is an outdated agreement that needs a major overhaul, but there are a lot of details missing from today’s announcement, and there are big unanswered questions as to where negotiations will go with Canada.
“Furthermore, the administration must follow the laws that I fought to pass to keep Congress and the public informed and give ample time to review any deal before votes are considered. On an issue as important as trade policy, Americans and their representatives in Congress must not be kept in the dark.”
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas — “I’m very encouraged the president and Ambassdor [U.S. Trade Representative Robert] Lighthizer have reached a preliminary agreement with Mexico to modernize and expand market opportunities in NAFTA.”
“I look forward to reviewing the details to ensure production agriculture’s interests and priorities are well served. Mexico and Canada are key agricultural trade partners — but for a trilateral agreement to succeed, we need all three parties to engage in the process.
“I call on Canada to resume its seat at the table so we can ensure that a strong, modern agreement among our three nations can be finalized as quickly as possible.”
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture CEO Barbara Glenn said the nation’s elected and appointed state agriculture officials were “encouraged by the progress the U.S. and Mexico have made on finding common ground on a modernized NAFTA.”
“NASDA is committed to enhancing our robust trading relationship with Canada and Mexico and we encourage negotiators from all three countries to swiftly bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion. It is vital that farmers and ranchers continue to have barrier-free access to the North American market.”
Like many groups, NASDA noted that NAFTA has been in place for a quarter of a century and generated an $11 billion export market for U.S. farmers and ranchers, making Canada and Mexico the first and third agricultural trading partners of the United States.
American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall — “This is the kind of trade news we have been waiting for.”
“In a time when the U.S. economy is booming our farmers have been left behind. Open markets and good trade agreements will give American agriculture the opportunity to be a part of this booming economy.
“So we encourage the administration to keep moving forward with Canada to address their anticompetitive milk pricing provisions. We need negotiators to convince Canadian officials that they, too, will benefit from a revised treaty. We are hopeful that the value of a continued and improved NAFTA for all will bring everyone back to the negotiating table.”
National Farmers Union Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Communications Rob Larew — “Today’s movement on NAFTA renegotiations is a positive step towards putting in place a trade deal that rewrites the current rules of international trade to put family farmers and ranchers on an even playing field with multinational corporations.”
“While this is an important step, there is still much work to be done on the part of U.S. negotiators to secure balanced trade and renewed sovereignty for American agriculture.
“Farmers Union urges the administration to work tactfully with our Mexican and Canadian trading partners to institute a new, fair trade NAFTA.”
U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight — “We are grateful for news today that the United States and Mexico have reached an agreement that will keep NAFTA modernization efforts moving.”
“This agreement is a major step forward for our relationship with Mexico and is a result of hard work over the last year to closely examine our vital partnership.
“Mexico is extremely important to every sector we represent. Yet, so too is Canada, our second largest ethanol market and a top ten corn market. We hope the agreement today opens the door for Canada’s reengagement, and we continue to oppose withdrawal from the existing NAFTA under any circumstances except the adoption of a new, beneficial and trilateral pact.”
The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) — “The announcement of a preliminary trade agreement between the United States and Mexico represents a significant, positive step in modernizing and further enhancing North American food and agricultural commerce that benefits the economic growth and consumers in the hemisphere.”
“We hope this agreement contributes to broader discussions on ways to further integrate food and agricultural markets between the United States, Mexico, and Canada to provide for increased investment, food security and consumer preference.
“We are particularly pleased by what we understand to be a number of efforts to preserve and enhance current trade terms in North America.
▪ The retention of zero tariffs on agricultural products traded between the United States and Mexico;
▪ The addition of 21st century language to enhance information exchange and cooperation on agricultural biotechnology trade-related matters;
▪ An agreement to strengthen disciplines for science-based sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures to facilitate trade;
▪ And an agreement that grading standards and services on agricultural products, including grains and oilseeds, will operate independently from domestic registration systems for grain and oilseed varieties.
“We are hopeful that these benefits will be realized in a final agreement that includes Canada.
“Addressing non-tariff trade barriers, as the preliminary agreement reportedly does, is particularly important to facilitating the grain and oilseed trade.
“We will be reviewing closely the reported inclusion in the preliminary agreement of SPS provisions that would:
1. Increase transparency in the development and implementation of SPS measures;
2. Advance science-based decision making;
3. Improve processes for certification, regionalization and equivalency determinations;
4. Conduct systems-based audits;
5. Improve transparency for import checks;
6. Enhance the compatibility of SPS measures between the two countries.
“The new agreement reportedly also would establish a new mechanism for technical consultations to resolve SPS issues between the two countries, which also would be a welcome development.
“Despite these clear improvements, we are disappointed by reports that the preliminary agreement removes or weakens key dispute-resolution procedures that currently benefit investors under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“These include provisions embodied in Chapters 19 and 20 of the NAFTA. These protections have been utilized successfully by U.S. agriculture to protect long-term investments in Mexico and defend against unjustified legal actions. These protections provide confidence to investors throughout the supply chain and protect industry efforts to create jobs and develop markets throughout North America.
“The announcement of a preliminary agreement is an important step toward eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers in North America. In the coming days we urge U.S. and Mexican negotiators to work with Canada and build on the progress already made by this preliminary agreement.”
The National Turkey Federation (NTF) said it “applauds the progress announced today on a trade deal with Mexico.”
“Stabilizing the trade relationship with the turkey industry’s largest export customer is of vital importance to our members.
“NTF is also encouraged by the reported agreement to strengthen disciplines for science-based SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary) measures, which has long been sought by the turkey industry. Mexico and the U.S. poultry industry have a long, robust history of trade. We look forward to continuing to build this partnership.”
Rachel Micah-Jones, executive director of the Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc., a transnational migrant rights organization based in Mexico and the United States. — “Today, we celebrate a big win: the U.S. trade representative announced that the preliminary agreement for a new trade deal reached by the United States and Mexico will ensure migrant workers are protected under labor laws, bring labor obligations from a side accord into the core of the agreement, and make labor obligations fully enforceable.”
“Since the renegotiation started last year, we’ve worked tirelessly to include strong labor protections in the new agreement.
“We’ve mobilized allies across the tri-national corridor and lifted workers’ voices in the process — from testifying alongside members of our comité before the USTR to submitting letters and petitions on behalf of over a hundred key signatories.
“Over the past eight years, CDM has witnessed firsthand the failure of the existing NAFTA labor-side accord to protect migrant workers’ rights. We have co-petitioned alongside migrant workers who have experienced egregious abuses in labor migration, from wage theft to health and safety violations to discrimination.
“These workers have not been made whole through the existing NAFTA labor side accord. Since renegotiation began, we have doggedly pursued a Labor chapter that would ensure strong protections for migrant workers and ensure those protections were enforceable. And, our efforts have paid off.
“Although many questions remain, CDM is cautiously optimistic that the commitments regarding migrant workers’ rights and enforceable dispute resolution in today’s announcement will be fully realized in the final agreement.
“Today, we commit to redoubling our efforts to give meaning to the promises made in this preliminary agreement.”