‘Preserve NAFTA’ Ag Industry Urges as Renegotiations get Underway
August 15, 2017
By Rhonda Brooks
Editorial Director, Farm Journal Media
The United States, Canada and Mexico are entering into renegotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) starting Wednesday.
President Donald Trump, who repeatedly slammed NAFTA during his presidential campaign, calling it the “worst trade deal” the U.S. ever approved, announced his intentions for the renegotiations shortly after taking office in January.
Much of his criticism at the time focused on the loss of U.S. manufacturing plants and jobs to Mexico, where labor costs are considerably cheaper.
More recently, President Trump’s views and comments have broadened to address agricultural interests. Last month, his administration outlined the objectives it has for the talks, which include “cutting the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico, encouraging greater labor market integration, improving market access for American manufacturers and farmers, and eliminating unfair trade practices.”
From U.S. agriculture’s perspective, NAFTA has been a boon for the industry. According to a June 2016 U.S. Department of Agriculture report, U.S. food and agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada have more than quadrupled—from $8.9 billion then to $38.6 billion in 2015—and farm groups are adopting a “do no harm” position on the upcoming talks.