Clements: The American Farm Bureau Federation met with counterparts from Canada and Mexico earlier this week to discuss trade issues relative to the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. AFBF trade specialist Dave Salmonsen says the meeting shows a unified voice across the NAFTA partners on agriculture issues.
Salmonsen: We think it’s very important that among all the countries, that industries can come together. And agriculture has seen the benefits across the board in all three countries. So, they came together to say this is an important part of our economy and we want to see the gains we’ve gotten from this preserved.
Clements: The meeting this week follows a similar meeting held in August between agriculture groups from Canada and Mexico, along with AFBF.
Salmonsen: We had gotten together back in August to decide what commonalities we might have, and we all agreed that overall NAFTA’s been very positive for all countries and to announce the fact that we didn’t want to see anything go backwards. But we are looking forward to some modernizations. And at the meeting we just had we affirmed all of those same issues.
Clements: He says the main issues include standards and market access.
Salmonsen: We don’t want to have food safety standards used as a protectionist trade barrier, so let’s base them on science, and there’s a lot of agreement there. At some point they’ll be talking about U.S. and Canada dairy trade. Within the TPP, there had been some new access for the U.S. to Canada. We hope that we can get that kind of access in the NAFTA agreement. We have issues with what role geographic indications labeling will take, so plenty of work ahead and October 11th the negotiators will be back in Washington, D.C., for another round of talks.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.