( The Packer )

Despite the bluster of President Donald Trump about the renegotiation of the  North American Free Trade Agreement, I’ve always thought that, in the end, a deal would get done.

Perhaps not as ambitious as it could have been, lacking certainly in the some of the goals that Trump favored early on in the process, but a deal for a “modernized” NAFTA would be signed. 

Recent reports show, however, that the Trump trade team has taken a hard line, saying that Mexico and Canada must make concessions to keep the deal. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump unhelpfully linked the building of the wall with NAFTA.

The next round of NAFTA talks is set to begin in Montreal on Jan. 23, with some thoughts that the talks could be extended beyond the March deadline to account for Mexican elections in July.

When I was in Orlando for the Potato Expo, John Keeling, CEO of the National Potato Council told me a U.S. pullout of NAFTA would be bad news indeed for the potato industry.

“We are losing ground not just in Mexico if NAFTA doesn’t come together, we are losing ground in Japan and Indonesia and other places - those countries may be less likely to negotiate with us because the process is a little uncertain at this point,” Keeling said.

President Trump recently spoke to the American Farm Bureau Federation but did not take the option of pulling out of NAFTA off the table. 

His brief remarks were only: 

“On NAFTA, I’m working very hard to get a better deal for our country and for our farmers and for our manufacturers. It’s not the easiest negotiation, but we’re going to make it fair for you people again. We want to see even more victories for the American farmer and the American rancher.”

The Produce Coalition for NAFTA and other pro-NAFTA agricultural groups have work to do to convince Trump to hang in with NAFTA.

Check out this link for the key points of NAFTA renegotiations. 

Will the insistent words from agricultural leaders to preserve the trade deal have any effects? Given what we know about Trump, It’s hard to believe they will. 

Trump will do what he does. Hafta NAFTA? Not necessarily.