The revised trade agreement between the U.S. and Mexico won’t bring any new trade protection tools for U.S. growers of seasonal specialty crops.
President Trump said Monday that a trade “understanding” has been reached with Mexico.
The agreement did not include a trade remedy for U.S. specialty crop producers, a provision which had been backed by many Southeast U.S. growers for more than a year.
“This is not the outcome we have worked for,” Mike Stuart, president of the Maitland, Fla.-based Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, said in a statement. “However, the president has promised to help safeguard farmers, and we will continue working diligently and persistently with the administration on solutions to stop Mexico’s unfair trading practices and to help our fruit and vegetable industry survive.”
Stuart said in the statement that generations-old family fruit and vegetable farms in the Southeast are “desperate to see relief from cheap Mexican fruit and vegetable imports.”
“Mexico swamps the U.S. market during our narrow marketing seasons at prices far below our production costs,” Stuart said. “What’s more, Mexico’s president-elect recently promised a significant increase in government subsidies to Mexican farmers to plant a million more hectares of fruit.”
Stuart said FFVA will continue to work its Congressional delegation on addressing the issue.
“Working with them and the administration, FFVA is committed to fighting destructive trade practices through all means possible to help our farmers compete on fair terms and stay in business,” Stuart said.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office summarized the agreement with Mexico in a fact sheet.
In this partial list, the USTR said the agreement will bring several benefits to agriculture:
- Maintain zero tariffs on agricultural products;
- Enhance information exchange and cooperation on agricultural biotechnology trade-related matters; and
- The two countries will increase transparency on the development and implementation of sanitary/phtyosanitary measures.
Trump said negotiations with Canada to review the U.S.-Canada trade portion of the deal would begin immediately.
Richard Owen, vice president of global membership and engagement for the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association, said Canada’s part in NAFTA is important to the produce industry supply chain. “The overall consensus is to make sure Canada is included in the next step,” he said Aug. 27.
The Canadian Produce Marketing Association said in a statement Aug. 27 that it was encouraged by the announcement that the U.S. and Mexico have come to an understanding on bilateral trade issues within the context of NAFTA.
“Canadian negotiators have been steadfast in their support for the industry and are well briefed on issues affecting fresh produce, including the seasonality provision, the elimination of Chapter 19 (dispute settlement in dumping cases), and the sunset clause,” the statement said.
CPMA said it was pleased that the seasonality provision has been removed from the U.S.-Mexico agreement and will not be part of the discussions moving forward.
“CPMA will continue to work with Canadian negotiators as they re-engage in formal negotiations with the U.S. reflecting the need for a trilateral agreement to preserve the competitiveness of the North American fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain,” the statement from CPMA said.
Perdue touts deal
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement that President Trump “achieved important improvements in the agreement to enable our agricultural producers to be treated more fairly.”
“This breakthrough demonstrates that the president’s common-sense strategy of holding trading partners accountable will produce results,” Perdue said in the statement.
Perdue said the agreement addresses agricultural biotechnology to keep up with 21st Century innovations.
“And we mutually pledge to work together with Mexico to reduce trade-distorting policies, increase transparency, and ensure non-discriminatory treatment in grading of agricultural products,” Perdue said in the statement.
“We now hope that Canada will see the need to settle all of the outstanding issues between our two nations as well, and restore us to a true North American Free Trade Agreement.”