Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
USA | By Kelli Rowe

Ag sector to keep close eye on NAFA renegotiations

Ag sector to keep close eye on NAFA renegotiations

The largest USA retail associations called on new Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to support the North American Free Trade Agreement, aiming to salvage an accord that has come under fire from his boss. This notice starts the clock on a 90-day domestic consultations window before the USA can begin formal talks.

Mr. Trump's rhetoric on trade is often more aligned with the stances of Democratic lawmakers, many of whom are skeptical of USA trade agreements, but presidents have relied mostly on Republican votes to pass trade deals in Congress.

Nebraskans who aren't already sweating bullets over President Trump's mentions about renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement should be gravely concerned. Within hours, the president reversed course and said that he'd seek a better deal first.

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"The ultimate concern for the business community at large is failure to come to a deal that ends in the USA pulling out of Nafta", said Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply-chain and customs policy at the NRF. They agreed the 23-year-old agreement "would benefit from strengthening and modernisation" but cautioned that efforts to abandon it or impose unnecessary restrictions on trade in North America "will have devastating economic consequences".

John Cornyn, R-Texas. He posted a picture to Twitter on Wednesday of the meeting with Lighthizer and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Trump fired Comey last week, and said later he was unhappy with the FBI investigation, which is looking into possible links between Trump's campaign and the Russian interference in the 2016 election. In 2016, US corn exports to Mexico totaled 13.3 million metric tons (523.5 million bushels) of corn, valued at $2.5 billion.

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Heitkamp did, however, point out three areas in which she feels NAFTA could be modernized to take into account some concerns: Canadian grain grading standards, Mexican sugar dumping and country of origin labeling of meat.

In March, the administration circulated an eight-page draft letter on NAFTA that disappointed critics by appearing to keep much of the existing trade agreement in place. Lighthizer's official notice to Congress, which came in the form of a letter to Republican and Democratic leaders, didn't highlight exchange rates as a specific priority.

Lori Wallach, director of the Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, says NAFTA needs a complete overhaul.

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Lighthizer and Ross were also expected to meet with the House Ways and Means Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands. Or it could take a more aggressive approach, putting pressure on Mexico to reduce the trade gap, perhaps by dropping a value-added tax Mexico slaps on goods coming across the border.

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