USTR includes seasonal produce, dairy in updated NAFTA objectives
Boozman leads senators to ask Ross for NAFTA ag analysis
Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., today led a bipartisan group of senators in sending a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross asking the administration to conduct a “robust” economic analysis to evaluate how any changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement would affect changes to the nation’s crop and livestock sectors.
“It is imperative that before any changes are made to NAFTA, or any other free trade agreement, that economic analysis that illustrates the impact on the full supply chain of the industries involved be shared,” the senators wrote.
“As such, we request an economic analysis that examines and evaluates the impacts to crop and livestock sectors as a result of any change to NAFTA.”
With the fifth round of NAFTA renegotiations underway, the senators were clear that any changes to U.S. trade policy must be positive for agriculture, especially in a time when many farmers and ranchers are struggling financially, the senators added.
The bipartisan group supporting Boozman’s letter included Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Steve Daines, R-Mont., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., John Hoeven, R-N.D., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Jerry Moran, R-Kan. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Pat Roberts, R-Kan. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., Luther Strange, R-Ala. John Thune, R-S.D. and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
“Our farmers and ranchers produce the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world, and exports are a vital part in their success,” Hoeven said in a separate release.
“That’s why we have continuously stressed to the administration that any renegotiation of NAFTA must result in better terms for agriculture producers. To ensure this, we are asking Secretary Ross to provide a thorough analysis of any proposed changes for this trade agreement.”
Pew poll: Americans support NAFTA
Most Americans support the North American Free Trade Agreement, but Republicans believe it benefits Mexico more than the United States, a Pew Research Center poll has found.
While 56 percent of Americans have a positive view of NAFTA, the poll showed that more than half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents have a negative view of NAFTA: 54 percent say the agreement is bad for the U.S., compared with 35 percent who say it is good.
Democratic views are highly positive: 72 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners say NAFTA is good for the U.S., while just 18 percent think it is bad for the country.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released updated objectives for the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations with Canada and Mexico.
“The objectives include increased market access for agriculture, new transparency and administrative measures, expanded investment and intellectual property objectives, and completed negotiations on the chapters of Competition and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises,” USTR noted in a news release.
“The objectives retain the first-ever USTR objective for trade deficit reduction, in addition to trade distortion prevention measures.”
The provisions include eliminating remaining Canadian tariffs on imports of U.S. dairy, poultry and egg products and the use of trade remedy laws for perishable seasonal products. Canada has objected to the dairy proposal and Mexico has objected to the perishable and seasonal products proposal.
Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has complained about the lack of updated objectives.
“The American people should not have to rely on anonymous leaks to the media in order to know what their government is purportedly seeking on its behalf, so I am glad the U.S. Trade Representative’s office has finally updated its public summary of its objectives for the NAFTA renegotiation as required by the provision I secured in a 2015 law,” Wyden said.
“These public summaries are critical to provide a window into the process so that the public — and their representatives in Congress — can provide relevant input into the talks.”
“The American public is rightfully skeptical of trade negotiations conducted in the dark,” Wyden said. “The administration needs to continue to provide the public with more information about its goals, and to listen to stakeholders about what a successful trade policy should look like.”