The latest round of negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada and Mexico concluded on Monday with a ministerial meeting and guardedly optimistic statements from the U.S. administration that negotiations were slowly moving in the right direction.
“We believe that some progress was made,” said U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer in a statement. “We closed one chapter, as Ildefonso [Guajardo] said it was the chapter on corruption, which is a very important chapter, and we made some progress on a few others. More importantly though, we finally began to discuss some of the core issues. So this round was a step forward, but we are progressing very slowly.”
Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA, attended the talks to advocate for dairy and engage with U.S. negotiators as a cleared advisor.
“I’m looking forward to a successful renegotiation for NAFTA and I’m optimistic that U.S. negotiators will work to preserve our dairy markets in Mexico and address global market problems resulting from Canada’s class 7 pricing issues,” Dykes said. “While updating and modernizing appropriate elements of NAFTA and the U.S.-Korean Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) are important, it is imperative for the United States to take aggressive and simultaneous steps to pursue new trade agreements. We must cultivate global trade policies that provide a level playing field for U.S. dairy.”
View a video of the press conference held with negotiators at the end of the round.
The next round will be held Feb. 26-March 6 in Mexico.
Earlier this month, our NAFTA partners joined nine other countries in announcing the conclusion of a new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which replaces the original TPP that included the United States.
In addition to Canada and Mexico, the other countries are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The countries are set to sign the agreement March 8 in Chile after every country conducts a legal review. The next step would be for each country to undertake its own domestic ratification procedures.
Although the text of the agreement has not been made public, published news reports about the pact and statements from trade officials indicate that many of the provisions remain the same as the original TPP text with a few issues being covered in side letters.
According to the Canadian government’s website, “Canada will provide permanent CPTPP-wide tariff rate quotas covering dairy, poultry and egg products. This access will be gradually phased in over a five-year period, followed by a smaller growth of the quota volume until year 13.”
Following the announcement of the agreement last week, President Donald Trump was asked during an interview with CNBC if he would be open to joining TPP. Trump said in reply, “I'm only saying this: I would do TPP if we were able to make a substantially better deal. The deal was terrible. The way it was structured was terrible. If we did a substantially better deal, I would be open to TPP.”
For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at email@example.com