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 Aug. 16, according to a news release.
The formal notification starts a 90-day period that must expire before trade deals can be altered.
United Fresh Produce Association issued a statement emphasizing the importance of trade to the produce industry and noted it looks forward to working with the relevant parties to identify ways NAFTA can be updated to better serve the industry.
“Trade across the NAFTA countries serves both consumers and deeply connected supply chains, providing significant jobs not only in agriculture but in processing and distribution,” Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for United Fresh, said in the statement. “The past 25 years of NAFTA has seen important growth in the fruit and vegetable industry to meet consumer demand. However, there are certainly specific challenges within fresh produce that NAFTA modernization can aggressively address, so we are pleased that this opportunity has been realized by the Administration.”
“Since January, United Fresh has been in constant dialogue with Congress, the Administration and other interested stakeholders to convey that the fruit and vegetable industry needs trade agreements that facilitate trade, rather than erecting barriers that protect specific interests,” Guenther said. “This includes pursuit of trade agreements that eliminate unfair, discriminatory and non-science-based regulatory barriers that disadvantage the industry both here in North America and throughout the globe. United Fresh will work to ensure that changes to NAFTA reflect those principles.”
“We believe today’s action signals the beginning of a strong trade agenda for U.S. exporters. In addition to improvements with Mexico and Canada, the potato industry looks forward to Administration efforts to gain increased access in China, Japan, Vietnam and other valuable overseas markets,” said John Keeling, Executive Vice President and CEO of NPC.
“With the delivery of the required formal notice to Congress, the Trump administration has officially taken the first step toward renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. 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 U.S. farmers and ranchers. We remain committed to the goal of a positive, market-expanding and modernized NAFTA. Achieving this objective starts with ensuring the negotiations protect U.S. agriculture’s benefits under the current trade agreement.
“The 2015 Trade Priorities and Accountability Act gives farmers, ranchers, the agriculture community and other stakeholders the opportunity to provide input and share our significant expertise with U.S. negotiators. Our ability to be part of these negotiations is important to our members and will help ensure the outcome improves trade relationships with our neighboring countries. Mexico and Canada are two of our largest export markets for the commodities and products raised on U.S. farms and ranches. America’s farmers and ranchers value them as customers and trade partners. We will work to ensure the renegotiation strengthens that critical relationship.”
“The restaurant industry relies on free and fair trade policies to provide fresh meals to our guests. As the Administration and Congress reexamine our nation’s trade deals, we urge them to work with industry partners to understand the impacts trade barriers or increased tariffs will have on restaurants, consumers, and our economy.” - Steve Danon, Senior Vice President of Communications, National Restaurant Association