Wheat and dairy groups were guarded in their assessments of the North American trade pact, while Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue asserted on Thursday the agreement "is locking up two of our top three markets for the future." The administration says the agreement, which needs approval by Congress, will enable fairer trade in food and agriculture but has not suggested what additional trade flow to expect.
President Trump veered between predicting easy approval of the new Canada-Mexico-U.S. trade agreement and expressing concerns about opposition to the pact on Monday while declaring that the agreement “is a very, very big deal for our farmers.”
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement that will succeed NAFTA includes the elimination of Canada’s Class 7 dairy price system and greater U.S. access to the Canadian dairy market than offered in the TPP free trade agreement, said senior administration officials late Sunday.
Much of the domestic discussion of NAFTA’s effects have centered on American workers, eaters, and growers. But the deal has had just as large an impact on Mexico’s economy, workforce, and agriculture. In Eating NAFTA: Trade, Food Policies, and the Destruction of Mexico, Alyshia Gálvez writes of how Mexico has been affected by the trade deal, and what possibilities for better deal-making could emerge if we took seriously the concerns of that country’s workers, eaters, and growers.
Three Republican senators said on Thursday that re-entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership could speed up the process of finding alternative markets for farm exports now that China has closed its door to them.
Amid rumors that Canada will offer concessions on dairy trade, former prime minister Brian Mulroney said he would be surprised if the new NAFTA did not include "flexibility" on the country's supply management system. Agriculture is a small part of NAFTA trade but it is a stubborn impediment in U.S.-Canada negotiations.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue described a potential tri-national agreement on a new NAFTA as the start of a domino effect in rewriting U.S. relations with trading partners around world. "I would love to have a deal today with Canada to put NAFTA back together," said Perdue during a C-SPAN interview in which he called for reform of Canada's supply-management system."
Agriculture amounts to a small part of NAFTA trade volume but it is a major sticking point for U.S. and Canadian negotiators who are scheduled to resume negotiations on the new NAFTA on Wednesday. The second-largest U.S. farm group said the White House ought to adopt the dairy supply management system that it reportedly is trying to eliminate in Canada and reinstate country-of-origin labeling on beef.
Dairy is not the only agricultural dispute between the United States and Canada, but it is the biggest one, according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Senior U.S. officials say the new NAFTA must include greater U.S. dairy access to Canada.
With negotiators facing an informal deadline of Friday for agreement on the new NAFTA, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will reject U.S. proposals to dismantle its supply management system, said Canadian Press on Wednesday.