Mexico private sector eyes more NAFTA content in future products

Frederick Owens
May 20, 2017

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer informed Congress on May 18 of President Donald Trump's intent to initiate negotiations with Canada and Mexico "as soon as practicable", but no earlier than August 16, according to a news release.

In a May 18 letter, newly appointed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told Congress that Trump plans to initiate negotiations with Canada and Mexico regarding NAFTA within 90 days.

Lee said Canada and Mexico are significant markets for United States food and fiber exports.

The trade agreement has been a lightning rod for criticism since it was being negotiated in the early 1990s. In 2016, the US had exported $231 billion in goods to Mexico (a 455 percent increase) and imported $294.2 billion (up 637 percent).

The Congressional Research Service has concluded that the impact of NAFTA on the US economy "has been relatively small".

"Many chapters are outdated and do not reflect modern standards", he said.

NAFTA's impact on the economy was more modest than partisans on either side of the debate had expected.

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There also has been some speculation that the United States would seek separate deals with Canada and Mexico, rather than retaining a three-country arrangement.

Linda Dempsey, vice president of worldwide economic affairs for NAM, praised the administration's announcement.

"As modernization of NAFTA is negotiated, it is critical to preserve the considerable gains that have been achieved for US food and agriculture". The American Farm Bureau looks forward to working with the administration, Congress, other agricultural groups, and officials in Canada and Mexico to protect these important markets while also addressing issues that have limited the trade potential of USA farmers and ranchers.

They said more than 200 associations, companies and individuals nationwide, including those represented by Martin and Westman, now are participating in the Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade. "As I have often said, if our people continue to grow it, U.S.D.A. will be there to sell it".

"In addition, US exports of pork, dairy, beef and poultry products to Mexico totaled almost $5 billion in value in 2016". Its mission is to enhance USA global competitiveness and assist the US industry to increase its global dairy ingredient sales and exports of US dairy products. "The food and agriculture sector supports more than 15 million American jobs and is the largest USA manufacturing jobs sector". It's why we recently announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade at U.S.D.A., because as world markets expand, we will be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.

"The fact is 95 percent of the world's consumers live outside of the United States and more than 20 percent of USA farm income is based on exports. Our integrated economies and supply chains support millions of jobs across the continent", she said.

Offering insight into how Mexico may seek to broker a deal, Moises Kalach, a linchpin of the country's private sector defense of NAFTA, said USA business leaders and government officials were increasingly persuaded that existing supply chains should not be disrupted - but that future production lines could be tailored to provide more work for North America. That means no import tax, no raised tariffs and no trade war.

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