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NAFTA Renegotiation Continues- Pres. Trump, Sec. Perdue, Lawmakers Weigh In

William Mauldin reported on Wednesday at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “President Donald Trump, speaking alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, opened the door to separate trade deals with Canada and Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement and repeated his warnings that the U.S. could withdraw from the pact.

“‘I think Justin understands this, if we can’t make a deal, it will be terminated and that will be fine,‘ Mr. Trump said Wednesday, underscoring the plan for now is to ‘renegotiate’ the 23-year-old trade pact.

“Asked if he would consider separate deals with Canada and Mexico, Mr. Trump said that he would. He added: ‘It’s possible we won’t be able to reach a deal with one or the other. But in the meantime, we’ll make a deal with one.'”

The Journal article pointed out that, “Several miles away in Northern Virginia, officials from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. opened the fourth round of talks on Wednesday. ‘Thus far, we have made good progress, and I look forward to several days of hard work,’ U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.”

Mexican officials, meanwhile, have said they would cease negotiating if Mr. Trump gives formal notice of intent to withdraw from Nafta,” the article said.

Mr. Mauldin added that, “American business and farm groups this month are asking their members to let lawmakers and the administration know that they want to keep the deal intact.”

Bloomberg writer Alan Bjerga reported on Tuesday that, “The head of the top U.S. agriculture group said farmers want ‘a seat at the table’ in trade talks to prevent a collapse of deals that would harm their exports, joining the nation’s biggest business lobby in warning against upending the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“‘We can’t sit aside while other countries work out trade deals among themselves,’ Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, said in a conference call announcing the group is joining of Farmers for Free Trade, an umbrella group of agricultural organizations and agribusiness promoting exports.”

“U.S. Agricultural Exports Pre- and Post- Trade Agreements.” USDA- Foreign Agricultural Service (May 15, 2017).

Meanwhile, Nick Giampia reported on Wednesday at FoxBusiness Online that, “Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue believes that President Trump will be able to negotiate a better deal on NAFTA.”

The article noted that, “Perdue explained why NAFTA benefits Canada more than it does the U.S.

‘The irritants that we have are primarily with Canada over their dairy management supply program they are over producing creating depressing world prices for milk solids.’

“‘There is also a wine issue in British Columbia where they are not letting our wines out front where their customers can choose. There is also poultry access issues. So some of the things left out of NAFTA from a Canadian access perspective is not fair for the U.S.,’ he said.”

The FoxBusiness update added that, “Trump, who has been an outspoken opponent NAFTA since his 2016 campaign, believes that the agreement has treated U.S. workers ‘unfairly’ and has negatively impacted America’s manufacturing industry.”

With respect to the legislative branch and NAFTA, a news release Wednesday from the House Ways and Means Committee indicated that, “The Ways and Means Committee today hosted the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, for a discussion on the U.S.-Canada bilateral trade relationship and the ongoing NAFTA negotiations.”

The release quoted Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R., Tex.) as saying in part that, “Our Committee, which you are visiting today, has constitutional responsibility for trade and is dedicated to ensuring that these negotiations are successful. To do that, we need to make progress on issues such as customs barriers at the border, intellectual property protection, and greater market access for U.S. dairy producers. I would ask for the Prime Minister’s help and open mind achieving a meaningful outcome on these issues.”

And Ways and Means Member Rep. Adrain Smith (R., Neb.) indicated Wednesday that, “We know the importance of NAFTA to Nebraska agriculture. Canada is the largest export market for U.S. agriculture products, and bilateral trade between Nebraska and Canada totals $1.9 billion a year. We had a productive discussion today about the importance of maintaining the gains achieved under NAFTA while strengthening the trade relationship between our two countries, and I am optimistic about the path forward.”

House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R., Tex.) stated in a news update from late last week that, “Our goal over the past two days was to ensure our Canadian counterparts understand that U.S. production agriculture has a keen interest in getting NAFTA done and done right. We have had productive conversations over the weekend with Canadian officials and are eager for negotiations to resume in Washington next week. As I’ve said before, U.S. production agriculture will continue to stay at negotiators elbow throughout this process to ensure their interests are taken into account. This is too important to screw up.”

The current negotiating round goes from October 11th thought the 17th.

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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