The pace of NAFTA negotiations has recently accelerated, as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his counterparts from Canada and Mexico just concluded four days of ministerial-level meetings. While it is still unclear when negotiations will conclude, the three trade ministers will reportedly reconvene May 7, with technical-level talks continuing in the meantime.
Oscar Ferrara, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) regional director for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic, explains that at the beginning of the NAFTA talks, red meat customers in Mexico were concerned about the future of NAFTA and whether they would continue to have duty-free access to U.S. pork, beef and lamb. But he says the these customers' business relationships with U.S. exporters remain strong, and they are now feeling more optimistic about the future of U.S.-Mexico trade relations.
While the U.S. is by far the largest supplier of red meat to Mexico, Ferrara says major competitors are definitely interested in serving the market. This includes the European Union, which recently reached an agreement in principle with Mexico on an updated version of the EU-Mexico trade agreement that originally entered into force in 2000.