Breaking News

Senators urge USTR to strengthen agricultural trade in NAFTA negotiations

Several U.S. Senators sent a bipartisan letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, urging him to strengthen agricultural trade as the Administration prepares to begin negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“As Senators representing states with significant agricultural exports, we appreciate the careful approach the administration is taking to strengthen the NAFTA agreement, while ensuring that no changes are made that could result in harm to U.S. agriculture,” the Senators wrote. “We look forward to working with you throughout the congressional consultation process to ensure that NAFTA continues its substantial economic contributions to U.S. farmers and ranchers and to the growth of our agricultural economy.”

Last month, the Trump Administration notified Congress of its intent to open negotiations with Canada and Mexico with respect to NAFTA. The notification triggers a 90-day consultation period under the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA), and the Administration is required to provide specific negotiating objectives at least 30 days before any negotiations begin.

Since NAFTA was signed into law in 1993, Canada and Mexico have been two of the top five destinations for U.S. agriculture products. Last year, the two countries accounted for 28 percent of the value of total agriculture exports from the United States. Since NAFTA’s enactment, livestock and meat exports to Canada have doubled and agriculture commodity exports to Mexico have increased significantly. South Dakota’s exports to Canada and Mexico have increased by $1.2 billion (969 percent) since NAFTA went into effect in 1994.

The letter is signed by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

Full text of the letter can be found below:


The Honorable Robert Lighthizer
U.S. Trade Representative
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
600 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC  20508

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

As you prepare to begin negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), we write to emphasize the economic significance of agricultural trade between the United States, Canada, and Mexico and the critical role that NAFTA plays in the trade relationships.

NAFTA has been an important trade agreement for the United States for more than 20 years. While we strongly support continued participation in the agreement, we also support the administration’s effort to review and strengthen NAFTA.  Given the significance of agricultural products in U.S. exports, we request that you avoid any revisions to NAFTA and other previously negotiated trade agreements that would diminish the opportunities for U.S. farmers and ranchers to export their products, particularly given the current depressed state of the agriculture economy.

Since NAFTA was signed into law in 1993, Canada and Mexico have been two of the top five destinations for U.S. agriculture products.  Last year, the two countries accounted for 28 percent of the value of total agriculture exports from the United States.  Since NAFTA’s enactment, livestock and meat exports to Canada have doubled and agriculture commodity exports to Mexico increased significantly.  The longstanding trade agreement between the three countries has proven to be an important success within the agriculture industry.

As Senators representing states with significant agricultural exports, we appreciate the careful approach the administration is taking to strengthen the NAFTA agreement, while ensuring that no changes are made that could result in harm to U.S. agriculture.  We look forward to working with you throughout the congressional consultation process to ensure that NAFTA continues its substantial economic contributions to U.S. farmers and ranchers and to the growth of our agricultural economy.

Sincerely,

No comments