North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations began today in Washington between Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Here's what farm groups are saying:
The American Farm Bureau Federation, The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) and Mexico’s Consejo Nacional Agropecuario (CNA) sent a joint letter to Canadian, United States and Mexican government officials reiterating their calls that NAFTA re-negotiations should aim to modernize the agreement, rather than dismantle it.
The AFBF, CFA, and CNA agree that agriculture represents one of NAFTA's biggest success stories. Agricultural reciprocal trade between the three countries has grown exponentially since the agreement was implemented more than 20 years ago.
Agricultural industries in each NAFTA country would greatly suffer from disruptions to trading relationships developed over the last 23 years. Farmers have increased productivity and improved their competitiveness to address the rapidly growing demand worldwide for healthy and sustainable food products. Losses due to NAFTA changes would severely stunt this progress.
“NAFTA has boosted the incomes of millions of farmers and has facilitated the development of profitable export markets," said CFA President Ron Bonnett.
The three agreed on the need to build on the original agreement's success by looking for ways to increase trade volumes.
“When it comes to overall positive results for North America’s farmers and ranchers, NAFTA has proved itself as a solid foundation for trade. Just as farmers have new tools and technology for food and fiber production, we believe that an updated NAFTA agreement can help the three nations become even stronger trading partners,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said.
“The NAFTA agreement has had a positive impact for the agricultural sector, including the exponential increase in trade flows between its partners; currently NAFTA markets are characterized by high level of complementarity, the possibility to face the challenge of food security in a better way, an open trade system with clear and fair rules," said CNA President Bosco de la Vega. "Taking these into account, we believe that today the NAFTA members have a big opportunity to even increase this positive outcome.”
All parties further commit to meeting with their governments to insist that NAFTA re-negotiations should be built on the principle of "doing no harm."
NAFTA discussions should seek:
- Increased and improved regulatory alignment.
- Improved flow of goods at border crossings.
- Further alignment of sanitary and phytosanitary measures using a science-based approach.
- Elimination of non-science based technical barriers to trade.
- Revisions that reflect technological advances since implementation such as digital trade.
A statement from U.S. Grains Council (USGC) President and CEO Tom Sleight:
"As formal renegotiation discussions for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) begin in Washington, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) will be engaging closely to help achieve a conclusion that provides our members and our customers long-term certainty and creates a new platform for growth and integration of our regional feed and fuel industries.
"The Council has worked diligently for decades in both Canada and Mexico, building trusted relationships that are supported by strong policy in NAFTA. This agreement and the trade it has spurred have been critical to the growth of the U.S. feed grains industry. It is a foundational agreement in our global trade policy.
"Both farmers and negotiators must understand how important these markets - and free trade - are to agriculture’s profitability. We appreciate our government's receptiveness in acknowledging that NAFTA is and will continue to be critical to our sector and hearing the improvements we would make to the 23-year-old pact. We look forward to these continued conversations as the trilateral negotiations evolve.”
Source: AFBF, U.S. Grains Council