Tuesday, May 23, 2017

USDA preparing for NAFTA renegotiation

by Logan Hawkes

Regardless of all the talk about how renegotiating U.S. trade deals can improve producer's profits, there is still a lot of concern being tossed around about how changing terms of international trade agreements—like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)—will play out for U.S. agricultural producers. Canceling or renegotiating terms of NAFTA was a major campaign promise for Donald Trump, but even the most loyal of Trump supporters have quietly admitted they were not sure how much candidate Trump understood about the importance of NAFTA to U.S. farmers and livestock producers, and how upsetting the apple cart could have a long term negative impact on domestic agriculture production and the ag economy. But as with so many other issues, President Trump has been well advised by scores of farm groups and key advisers since the election, including newly appointed agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue, and rumor has it that the White House has been reevaluating many ideas, such as a border tax, as they gear up to tackle renegotiating efforts with trade officials of both Mexico and Canada.The first priority in the preparation for those trade meetings is becoming more obvious as both the White House and the Republican-controlled House and Senate have begun expressing a sense of urgency and an acceleration of the renegotiation process. Secretary Perdue said last week he is hopeful Congress can clear the way by the end of this week (May 26) to post notice of intent, as required by rules of NAFTA, to call for meetings between member states for the purpose of discussing desired changes and amendments to the NAFTA agreement. Both Trump and his staff, who have been working on NAFTA plans, have been asking U.S. lawmakers to move more quickly, but up until last week, Congress seemed to be dragging their feet. In recent days, however, some lawmakers have joined Trump in expressing the need to hurry up the process and clear the way to get renegotiation efforts moving forward as quickly as possible...more

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