( File photo )

(UPDATED, Oct. 1 ) Wrapping up talks at the 11th hour of a self-imposed deadline, the U.S., Mexico and Canada agreed on a new trade deal the night of Sept. 30.

The text of the agreement, called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, was published on the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative website but later taken down.

“Today, Canada and the United States reached an agreement, alongside Mexico, on a new, modernized trade agreement for the 21st Century: the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a joint statement.

The two said the agreement “will give our workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses a high-standard trade agreement that will result in freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in our region.”

According to several media reports, the deal will open the Canadian dairy market to U.S. competition.

U.S. dairy farmers will have access to about 3.5% of Canada’s dairy market, according to a Reuters report.

President Trump will send the deal to Congress, which will start a 60-day review period.

Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association, said in a statement that the group was encouraged by the news that a revised trilateral agreement has been reached between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

“The strong relationships our members have established between these three countries have helped enable the growth of the fresh produce industry over the last quarter century,” he said. “United Fresh looks forward to working with Congress to achieve the swift approval of this new agreement.”

The leadership of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association expressed satisfaction with the deal.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will ensure that the supply chains of the fresh produce industry remain integrated benefiting both Canadian producers and consumers, according to the group.

“CPMA has been active over the past 13 months to promote the ongoing free trading environment for our industry within North America,” Les Mallard, CPMA chair, said in the release.  “We are greatly appreciative of the hard work by Canadian negotiators to finalize the deal in a way that is not harmful to our sector.”

CPMA will be reviewing the details of the agreement, particularly those chapters related to sanitary and phytosanitary issues, dispute resolution, trade remedies, good regulatory practices, and competitiveness.

“CPMA looks forward to continued collaboration with Ministers Freeland and MacAulay on other key areas of trade which are focused on diversification and growth within the fresh produce industry,” Ron Lemaire, CPMA president, said in the release.

The Produce Coalition for NATFA,  a group of U.S. and Canadian fruit and vegetable companies that support efforts to modernize NAFTA, said in a statement that the deal " re-affirms and builds on the commitment to open trade in agricultural products, including fresh produce."   The coalition said it will work with House and Senate lawmakers to ensure ratification of the trade agreement.

Western Growers said the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will enable food and agriculture to trade more fairly, and could help expand exports of American agricultural products.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue celebrated news of the deal.

"I have long said that I believe our country is located in the best neighborhood on Earth – North America – with valuable allies to our north and south," Perdue said in a statement. "We have secured greater access to these vital markets and will maintain and improve the highly productive integrated agricultural relationship we have as nations."

Perdue said in his statement that there were "many detractors who said it couldn’t be done."

"But this is further proof that President Trump’s trade negotiation strategy is working. A renewed USMCA, a new KORUS agreement, and the continued progress with Japan, can lead to further deals with other trading partners like the European Union and China," he said. "The dominoes are falling and it is good news for U.S. farmers. I thank President Trump and our U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Lighthizer for their perseverance, leadership, and hard work.”
 
A fact sheet relating to the agreement can be found at the USTR website, with another fact sheet posted for agricultural benefits.

 
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