On May 18, 2017, the Trump administration formally informed Congress it intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. The earliest negotiations could begin is mid-August.
The announcement has been widely anticipated as Trump campaigned on the issue and generated buzz within the agricultural community.
A sampling of commentary:
"While NAFTA has been an overall positive for American agriculture, any trade deal can always be improved. As President Trump moves forward with renegotiating with Canada and Mexico, I am confident this will result in a better deal for our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers. When the rules are fair and the playing field is level, U.S. agriculture will succeed and lead the world. It's why we recently announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade at USDA, because as world markets expand, we will be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture. As I have often said, if our people continue to grow it, USDA will be there to sell it," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
“As an industry, we fully support the administration’s call to modernize NAFTA. Without this trade agreement and the market access it provides, the United States would stand to lose nearly $2 billion annually in dairy exports and tens of thousands of farming and manufacturing jobs in communities across the country,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO. “The issues of geographical indications, intellectual property rights and ways to resolve sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) are also of keen interest to the dairy industry. We look forward to working with Ambassador Lighthizer and other Trump Administration officials during the renegotiation process to provide helpful data and input.”
“We agree with Ambassador Lighthizer that the current NAFTA agreement has areas upon which we can build as the renegotiation process begins, including the market we have developed in Mexico,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Obviously, dairy trade with Canada – where we continue to face 200%-300% tariffs and a slew of nontariff policies that distort dairy trade – is an entirely different story, and we need to address it as part of these talks. Central to any successful NAFTA negotiations will be changes to Canada’s new policies designed to harm bilateral trade and dump their structural dairy surplus on the world market.”
"With this first step, I now encourage the administration to swiftly commence modernization negotiations with our NAFTA partners and prioritize their quick conclusion," said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “Mexico is our only $1 billion dairy market; finding a replacement for sales that are so critical to supporting tens of thousands of jobs across this country is no small task, so preserving it is essential. At the same time, numerous opportunities exist to shore up open trade and further deepen it with our NAFTA partners, such as addressing Canada’s tariff and nontariff constraints on dairy trade, instituting stronger SPS commitments and ensuring that geographical indications are not used to restrict the use of common names.”
“The 2015 Trade Priorities and Accountability Act gives farmers, ranchers, the agriculture community and other stakeholders the opportunity to provide input and share our significant expertise with U.S. negotiators," said American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall. "Our ability to be part of these negotiations is important to our members and will help ensure the outcome improves trade relationships with our neighboring countries. Mexico and Canada are two of our largest export markets for the commodities and products raised on U.S. farms and ranches. America’s farmers and ranchers value them as customers and trade partners. We will work to ensure the renegotiation strengthens that critical relationship.”
“Our top priority in the modernization of NAFTA is to maintain this market access and keep in place what we and our customers have built," said Chip Councell, chairman of the U.S. Grains Council. "For instance, all corn products currently go into Mexico and Canada duty-free, with sales last marketing year of $2.7 billion in commodity corn alone. That demand is an essential part of ensuring farmers can continue to farm in this economy."
Source: USDA, NMPF, USDEC, IDFA, AFBF, U.S. Grains Council