A group of 168 companies and trade associations from across America’s food and agriculture sectors are calling for support of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“We write to underscore the importance of the North American Free Trade Agreement to the U.S. food and agriculture industry and to express concern about the potential of a withdrawal from this critical trade agreement,” reads a letter delivered to all 50 state governors, state agriculture commissioners and each state's leader of economic development.
The letter notes the Trump administration's "do no harm" pledge regarding food and agriculture in NAFTA negotiations, but notes potential for substantial adverse economic consequences from some negotiating positions.
The signatories encourage NAFTA negotiations to continue without the threat of withdrawal and request the state leaders let President Trump know they support a modernized NAFTA that maintains and enhances food and agricultural trade between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
Withdrawing from the accord would have adverse impacts, they letter says, citing the more than 22 million jobs that are supported by food and agriculture.
The food and agriculture industry accounts for 20% of the U.S. economy, the letter says. The U.S. food and agriculture industry supports more manufacturing jobs than any other manufacturing sector and is considered "the economic backbone of rural America." American food and agriculture exports to Canada and Mexico grew by 450% under NAFTA.
The letter offers a partial list of harmful, unintended consequences of withdraw, including:
- Fueling additional uncertainty among trading partners who are likely to explore non-U.S.-origin sources of supply
- Triggering substantial and immediate responses in commodity markets
- Causing contracts to be renegotiated or cancelled
- Delaying sales or losing them altogether
- Enabling foreign competitors to seize U.S. export markets, and
- Immediately driving substantial litigation, even before withdrawal took effect.
- A net loss of 256,000 U.S. jobs.
Source: Food & Ag Trade Working Group