Trump agrees not to terminate NAFTA at this time
After a day in which media reports indicated President Donald Trump was considering signing an executive order that would have allowed him eventually to withdraw the U.S. from the North American Free Trade Agreement, the White House late Wednesday issued a statement that Trump had spoken with Canadian and Mexican leaders and decided not to move forward on withdrawal.
Today, Trump told reporters, “I decided rather than terminating NAFTA, which would be a pretty big, you know, shock to the system, we will renegotiate. Now, if I’m unable to make a fair deal, if I’m unable to make a fair deal for the United States, meaning a fair deal for our workers and our companies, I will terminate NAFTA. But we’re going to give renegotiation a good, strong shot.”
American Soybean Association President Ron Moore said in a news release, “We are relieved by the president’s decision that the United States will work on improving the NAFTA rather than withdrawing from it, and we will continue to closely monitor negotiations as they move forward. When you’re talking about $3 billion in soybean exports a year, any threats to withdraw from agreements and walk away from markets makes farmers extremely nervous. We remain supportive of efforts to modernize NAFTA and further expand access for U.S. soy in Mexico and Canada, and we look forward to working with the administration to realize these goals.”
ASA was one of many farm groups that issued statements Wednesday urging Trump not to begin the process of withdrawal from NAFTA.
Meanwhile, a group of House members showed that they would keep up the pressure on Trump to use the NAFTA process to deal with dairy problems by sending the president a letter expressing appreciation for his statements criticizing Canadian dairy prices that have resulted in reduced U.S. exports.
The National Milk Producers Federation, the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the International Dairy Foods Association praised the members for writing the letter.
“We very much appreciate the bipartisan support from members of Congress on this important issue. As the U.S. reviews the value of NAFTA, it’s essential that our trade negotiators focus on preserving dairy trade with Mexico and other key markets, while challenging barriers such as Canada’s systematic abuse of trade rules and tools,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.
“U.S. dairy companies and the workers they employ across rural America compete in global markets on a daily basis. They should reasonably be able to expect that others are also going to play by the rules,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “When our trading partners hold up their end of the bargain – as we have seen Mexico do for dairy – trade benefits our farmers, workers and companies. But to preserve that positive impact, it’s essential that we hold countries accountable when they walk the other direction, too – as Canada has chosen to do on dairy.”
“We appreciate the efforts of each member of Congress who signed the letter, recognizing the importance of our exports to Mexico while noting that Canadian dairy policies are directly hurting American exports,” said Michael Dykes, president and CEO of IDFA. “As we conveyed to our Mexican partners in our visit there earlier this year, NAFTA is very important to both our countries and has yielded strong benefits for agriculture. To build upon that track record, we need to address unfinished business such as the remaining tariff and nontariff trade barriers that Canada has pursued.”
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