NAFTA renegotiation: What has happened and what are the next steps

From the National Association of Wheat Growers

The first meeting between U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, Canadian Minister Lawrence MacAulay and Mexican Secretary Calzada took place June 19-20, in Savannah, Ga. The group released a joint statement following the meetings stressing the importance and the mutual benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As released in the statement, “We share a commitment to keeping our markets open and transparent so that trade can continue to grow.”

Additionally, last week the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) filed joint comments with U.S. Wheat Associates in response to the U.S. Trade Representative’s request for comments on negotiating objectives regarding modernization of NAFTA with Canada and Mexico. In the comments, the wheat organizations emphasized the importance of “do no harm” during the renegotiations and discussed several areas where improvements could be made.

The U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance (USBCA), in which NAWG is a member, also submitted comments. In its comments, USBCA states that “modernizing NAFTA is an excellent opportunity to improve domestic and export marketability of U.S. crops.” The alliance encourages the “completion of an agreement that provides for mutual recognition of approvals and common practice for LLP situations.” “Inclusion of these principles in a ‘modernized’ NAFTA also could contribute to their adoption in future trade accords beyond North America,” the Alliance stated.

This week U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, testified to the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Ways and Means on the Administration’s trade agenda and the FY18 budget request for his office.

Next week, there will be a hearing on the modernization of NAFTA from at the U.S. International Trade Commission. NAWG CEO Chandler Goule and U.S. Wheat Associates’ Director of Policy, Ben Connor, will have an opportunity to testify.

Lastly, on July 17, 2017, there will be a public release of the NAFTA negotiating objectives by the Administration. Formal NAFTA negotiations can officially start on Aug. 16, 2017.