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U.S. producer groups submit comments on NAFTA to USTR

NAFTA renegotiations scheduled to begin this summer

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content

American farm groups are submitting comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) as the Trump Administration prepares for a summer renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), American Soybean Association (ASA), National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) are among the organizations commenting.

AFBF expressed a number of opportunities in the renegotiation of NAFTA that could benefit American producers.

Discussions “should address how U.S. agricultural exports to Canada would grow if tariff barriers to dairy, poultry and eggs were reduced or eliminated…,” AFBF’s June 14 comments said. “Remedies for our produce growers need to be strengthened. A timely trade dispute resolution process should be added that takes into account the perishability, seasonality and regional production of fruit, vegetable and horticultural products.”

The U.S. dairy industry outlined its desire to have Canadian milk pricing and dairy tariffs removed from American products.

“It is critical that the U.S. pursue an aggressive strategy to curb Canada’s ongoing and intentional impairment of the value of dairy concessions to the U.S. and disregard of its trade commitments to the harm of U.S. dairy farmers and exporters,” the USDEC and NMPF said in a joint comment on June 12.

Preserving an open market with Mexico is also important to the U.S. dairy industry, according to the comments from both organizations.

The American soybean industry would like sustainability to be a key component to NAFTA renegotiations.

In 2015, the U.S. soybean industry exported US$438 million worth of goods to Canada and US$2.4 4 billion worth of goods to Mexico.

ASA would like to keep those current arrangements, according to their comments.

“Thanks to NAFTA, other free trade agreements, and liberalization of markets (including China) under the World Trade Organization, U.S. soy exports have grown significantly over the past 25 years,” ASA said in a June 12 statement.

The organization also prioritizes maintaining a comprehensive, rules-based approach in NAFTA and ensuring no backsliding by any party on agriculture or non-agriculture market access commitments in the renegotiation process.

The USTR is accepting comments until midnight on June 14.

NAFTA renegotiations are scheduled to begin August 16.

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