US objectives for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) were published on 17 July. Cutting the trade deficit and improving US market access top President Trump’s wish list, as talks with Canada and Mexico are set to start in the next 30 days.
And NCBA said the Trump administration’s plan to back duty-free access and science-based sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) were “beneficial to the US beef industry”.
The association was a vocal supporter of NAFTA during the Obama years and is continuing to push for a good deal on beef exports to Canada and Mexico now.
“As we have said before, it is difficult to improve upon duty-free, unlimited access to Canada and Mexico and we are pleased that [the US Trade Representative (USTR)] objectives for NAFTA include maintaining existing reciprocal duty-free market access for agricultural goods,” NCBA president Craig Uden said.
What Uden and the NCBA do not want is for Trump to heed calls from other agricultural players to make sweeping changes to NAFTA. The US should “focus its efforts” on duty-free access and SPS measures, and “leave alone the terms of NAFTA that have greatly benefited the US beef and cattle industry”, NCBA said.
‘Too many Americans have been hurt’
After USTR published a detailed summary of negotiating points on Monday 17 July, trade rep Robert Lighthizer said: “President Trump continues to fulfil his promise to renegotiate NAFTA to get a much better deal for all Americans.
“Too many Americans have been hurt by closed factories, exported jobs, and broken political promises. Under President Trump’s leadership, USTR will negotiate a fair deal. America’s persistent trade imbalances break down trade barriers and give Americans new opportunities to grow their exports.”
But Friends of the Earth – a group campaigning on food, environment and waste issues – hit out at the summary of objectives, calling it a “war on public health”.
“Since taking office, Trump has shown repeatedly that he plans to redo NAFTA to benefit corporations,” Friends of the Earth senior trade analyst Bill Waren said.
“Trump’s statement indicates he plans to step up his war on public health and the planet by modelling NAFTA’s provisions related to environmental regulation on the TPP. These objectives appear to set the stage for a stealth attack on strong regulation of food, agriculture, chemicals and biotechnology.