As trade deal looms, North American farm officials pledge cooperation

Feb 24, 2019, 3:30 PM
Canadian Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Mexica...
Canadian Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Mexican Agricultural Secretay Victor Arámbula Villalobos share a laugh at a forum near Washington Thursday. (Photo by Alyssa Klink/Cronkite News)
(Photo by Alyssa Klink/Cronkite News)

WASHINGTON – The top agriculture officials from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. reiterated the importance of North American trade and cooperation Thursday in their first joint meeting since a replacement deal for NAFTA was announced.

The meeting of U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Canadian Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay and Mexican Agriculture Secretary Víctor Villalobos Arámbula came as lawmakers in their countries consider the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a free trade deal more than a year in the making.

It is one of several trade issues the three countries are currently grappling with, but the farm leaders at the 95th annual Agricultural Outlook Forum glossed over the differences and focused on the continent’s recent history of economic cooperation.

“We live in the best neighborhood of the world,” Villalobos said. “Therefore, we must continue to work closely in an open dialogue and be prepared to go further in integrating our North American competitive bloc.”

For Arizona, exports to Canada and Mexico totaled $9.7 billion in 2017, according to data from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. It said that $536.9 million of those exported goods were farm products.

It was in 2017 that President Donald Trump ordered a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the 1993 pact that opened markets between the three countries.

Talks began in August 2017 and a tentative replacement deal known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement was agreed to on Nov. 30, 2018. The deal will not be final until it is approved by the legislative bodies in each country, which could take months.

“It’s a major priority for the Arizona chamber and the broader business community that Congress adopts it at the legislative level,” said Garrick Taylor, a spokesman for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.

“On the export side, our cattle industry as well as other produce such as Yuma-grown lettuce, is a major commodity we sell far beyond the borders of Arizona,” Taylor said.

Trump, who campaigned against NAFTA and called that pact a “catastrophe” in his 2019 State of the Union address, called on Congress to approve the new agreement. But several potential roadblocks have cropped up.

The first is an International Trade Commission analysis of the Nov. 30 deal that has to be produced before Congress can vote: That report was put on hold for 35 days during the partial government shutdown that stretched from December to January.

Further complicating the matter are the tariffs that Trump imposed last summer on steel and aluminum imports, which the Canadians and Mexicans dislike.

“There has been a lot up in the air in regard to ag because in retaliation to those tariffs some dairy producers have been hit with retaliatory tariffs,” said Gabby Beaumont-Smith, a macroeconomics policy analyst from the Heritage Foundation.

She said tariffs are “going to affect the production process somewhere along the line, because everything gets trickled down somehow and with the retaliatory tariffs, that’s going to affect U.S. exports to Mexico.”

Taylor said it is possible Canada and Mexico will balk over the issue of steel and aluminum tariffs, but called for U.S. lawmakers to approve the deal.

“The executive branch has done its job in signing it with our counterparts in Canada and Mexico, and now it’s time for Congress to do its job,” Taylor said.

Neither the Mexican Congress nor the Canadian Parliament have approved the agreement yet.

Despite the challenges to passage, Perdue, Villalobos and MacAulay preached solidarity in regional and global trade and promised to continue efforts no matter the result.

“The fact is, working together, we’re much stronger,” MacAulay said. “I think we have to work together, make sure we combine our efforts.”

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

United States News

FILE - A U.S. Navy Seahawk helicopter flies over a stateless dhow later found to be carrying a hidd...
Associated Press

US Navy offers cash for tips to seize Mideast drugs, weapons

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.S. Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet is starting to offer rewards for information that could help sailors intercept weapons, drugs and other illicit shipments across the region amid tensions over Iran’s nuclear program and Tehran’s arming of Yemen’s Houthi rebels. While avoiding directly mentioning Iran, the 5th Fleet’s decision […]
1 day ago
A person wearing a protective mask watches an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 ind...
Associated Press

Asian shares mixed, oil steady ahead of July 4 holiday in US

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mixed in Asia on Monday while U.S. futures fell ahead of the July 4 holiday in the U.S. Benchmarks rose in Tokyo, Shanghai and Sydney but fell in Hong Kong and Seoul. Oil prices were steady after surging on Friday. Shares in Japanese telecoms carrier KDDI Corp. fell as much […]
1 day ago
FILE - Fireworks explode over Baltimore's Inner Harbor during the Ports America Chesapeake 4th of J...
Associated Press

A turbulent US this July 4, but many see cause to celebrate

Independence Day arrives at a time when the United States is roiled by hearings over the Jan. 6 insurrection, awash in turmoil over high court rulings on abortion and guns and struggling to maintain the common bonds that keep it together. Yet many also see cause to celebrate: The pandemic continues to be on the […]
1 day ago
Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies about h...
Associated Press

Jan 6 panel: More people turn up with evidence against Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — More witnesses are coming forward with new details on the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot following former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s devastating testimony last week against former President Donald Trump, says a member of a House committee investigating the insurrection. The panel already has subpoenaed former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Today in History: July 4, Declaration of Independence

Today in History Today is Monday, July 4, the 185th day of 2022. There are 180 days left in the year. This is Independence Day. Today’s Highlight in History: On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. On this date: In 1802, the United […]
1 day ago
This image released by Bleecker Street shows Freida Pinto, left, and Zawe Ashton in a scene from "M...
Associated Press

‘Minions’ set box office on fire with $108.5 million debut

Families went bananas for Minions this weekend at the movie theater. ” Minions: The Rise of Gru ” brought in an estimated $108.5 million in ticket sales from 4,391 screens in North America, Universal Pictures said Sunday. By the end of the Monday’s July Fourth holiday, it will likely have earned over $127.9 million. The […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
As trade deal looms, North American farm officials pledge cooperation