NAFTA Trade Negotiation Kick Off

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation started up on August 16th. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer explained the deal has helped many Americans but also failed others.

Lighthizer says that Canada and Mexico are the largest export markets for U.S. farmers and ranchers, but claims at least 700,000 American have lost their jobs because of changing trade flows under the agreement. He says that they cannot ignore trade deficits and lost manufacturing jobs.

There was a joint statement the same week from the largest farm groups from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

The American Farm Bureau, Canadian Federation of Agriculture, and Mexico National Agriculture Council sent a letter to all three nations, to try and put a face behind the idea that ag trade has done well under NAFTA and they don’t want renegotiation to hurt it.

But while negotiators publicly say they want to preserve the pact’s gains for farmers, they also want some good-sized changes including better trade flows, labor and environmental standards, and a dispute settlement system.

Trade Adviser with the American Farm Bureau Dave Salmonsen says, “Can we, without changing what we’re already doing, making improvements that will be better for everybody. Not easy, these are the outstanding issues.”

Salmonsen says there is a time crunch, Mexico will have it’s presidential elections next year, which could put the renegotiation on hold.

He says, “We all know trade negotiations usually take longer than you think they will. But maybe with good faith and depending on the amount of issues they agree to tackle they could put something together.”