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Perdue Weigh in on NAFTA Renegotiations
USAgNet - 05/19/2017

The U.S. dairy industry commended Robert Lighthizer, the newly confirmed U.S. Trade Representative, for taking swift action under the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act (TPA) to begin the process for modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In a notification letter sent today to Congress, Ambassador Lighthizer outlined some of the areas of the agreement that are either outdated or missing -- several of which are important to the U.S. dairy industry -- and reaffirmed commitment to pursuing the trade priorities outlined by TPA, including goals related to market access and curbing the abuse of geographical indications. He also emphasized the importance of effectively implementing and aggressively enforcing the commitments made by Canada and Mexico, two of the dairy industry's top trade partners.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) have repeatedly urged administration officials and legislators to focus on maintaining what has worked well, such as trade with Mexico, the top market for U.S. dairy exports. The dairy groups have also continued to call for improving market access to Canada and tackling that country's expanding list of protectionist policies and other barriers to U.S. dairy exports.

"We agree with Ambassador Lighthizer that the current NAFTA agreement has areas upon which we can build as the renegotiation process begins, including the market we have developed in Mexico," said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. "Obviously, dairy trade with Canada -- where we continue to face 200%-300% tariffs and a slew of nontariff policies that distort dairy trade -- is an entirely different story, and we need to address it as part of these talks. Central to any successful NAFTA negotiations will be changes to Canada's new policies designed to harm bilateral trade and dump their structural dairy surplus on the world market."

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue issued the following statement after U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer notified Congress that Trump intends to renegotiate NAFTA:

"While NAFTA has been an overall positive for American agriculture, any trade deal can always be improved. As President Trump moves forward with renegotiating with Canada and Mexico, I am confident this will result in a better deal for our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers. When the rules are fair and the playing field is level, U.S. agriculture will succeed and lead the world. It's why we recently announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade at USDA, because as world markets expand, we will be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture. As I have often said, if our people continue to grow it, USDA will be there to sell it," said Secretary Perdue.

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