Clements: With the Donald Trump administration issuing its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, the American Farm Bureau Federation says the top priority for farmers and ranchers in the negotiation process is protecting markets for U.S. agriculture. AFBF economist Veronica Nigh says AFBF looks forward to working with the administration and Congress during the renegotiation process to maintain and improve trade between the NAFTA partners.
Nigh: It’s important to remember that combined, more than one-third of U.S. ag exports go to our Canadian and Mexican partners. Certainly, there are areas for modernization, but these are vital markets for us and we need to maintain these important relationships that we’ve developed.
Clements: While protecting the current markets included in NAFTA is a top priority, Nigh says the renegotiations could address issues to improve agricultural trade between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Nigh: There’s always things that you can improve on an agreement that was negotiated 25 years ago. Some of those relate to agriculture, including sanitary and phytosanitary measures, intellectual property rights, regulatory practices and customs procedures. And more specifically, that means regulations around biotechnology, issues related to animal and plant health, geographic indicators, and some issues around trade and specific commodities like poultry, dairy and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Clements: She says negotiations can begin in August.
Nigh: The May 18th notice to Congress triggers a 90-day process for USTR to consult with Congress and decide on a set of detailed negotiating objectives. Importantly, 30 days before the U.S. team can negotiate with our Mexican and Canadian counterparts, that wish list has to be made public. So, if everything follows the 90 days, it means negotiations can begin August 16th at the earliest.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.
Communications Assistant, AFBF