Progress on USMCA deal welcomed

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

The USMCA deal involves over US$1tn of trade, including meat and poultry products
The USMCA deal involves over US$1tn of trade, including meat and poultry products
Leaders of the nations involved in the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) have taken a significant step forward by signing the deal to open up trade between the three countries.

Set to replace the previous North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which US President Trump was not in favour of, the USMCA deal involves over US$1tn of trade, including meat and poultry products. The deal has to be ratified before it can take effect.

Speaking following the signing of the USMCA deal, US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said: “The new USMCA makes important specific changes that are beneficial to our agricultural producers.  We have secured greater access to the Mexican and Canadian markets and lowered barriers for many of our products. The deal eliminates Canada’s unfair Class 6 and Class 7 milk pricing schemes, opens additional access to US dairy into Canada, and imposes new disciplines on Canada’s supply management system. The agreement also preserves and expands critical access for US poultry and egg producers and addresses Canada’s discriminatory wheat grading process to help US wheat growers along the border become more competitive.

“This is good news for American farmers and we now need Congress to follow suit and enact the necessary implementing legislation. I commend President Trump and our US Trade Representative, Ambassador Lighthizer, for their perseverance, leadership and hard work.”

The deal has been welcomed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Kevin Kester.

“With the signing of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, US beef producers are one step closer to knowing that unrestricted, science-based trade will continue in North America​,” he said. “The agreement brings the trading relationship with our neighbours into the 21st century – and clearly rejects the failed beef and cattle trade policies of the past. Open markets have helped US producers flourish and created billion-dollar markets for US beef. We look forward to working with Congress to get USMCA passed into law as quickly as possible.”

Meat Institute president and CEO Julie Anna Potts also welcomed the deal but urged a resolution to tariffs. "Although the agreement signed last week safeguards the core tenets of NAFTA that have strengthened the U.S. meat sector and overall economy, those benefits will not be fully realized until the three countries work to remove tariffs currently in place.  The Meat Institute continues to encourage the Administration to lift steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from Canada and Mexico, and urges Canada and Mexico to, in turn, remove retaliatory tariffs on U.S. meat exports.

"We look forward to working with the Administration and our counterparts in Canada and Mexico to support trade that is fair and upholds international standards to ensure USMCA implementation successfully achieves its intended purpose of improving North American trade through expanded market access with fewer barriers." 

Not everyone is as impressed by the deal however. The National Farmers Union (NFU) said that while USMCA makes important improvements over NAFTA, the deal currently does not go far enough to institute a fair trade framework that benefits family farmers and ranchers and restores sovereignty to the US. In response to the signing, NFU president Roger Johnson urged Congress to demand the administration make changes to the deal before ratifying it.

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