NMPF Engages with U.S. Negotiators Throughout NAFTA Modernization Process; Objects to Korea Trade Pact Pullout

Last month, negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) kicked off in Washington, followed shortly by a second round of talks in Mexico. NMPF has been preparing for these negotiations throughout the year by engaging with the Trump Administration and Congress, as well as through complementary efforts with several Mexican dairy organizations [see related story above] to advance dairy priorities in the United States’ most important free trade agreement (FTA).

NMPF staff attended the first round of negotiations in Washington and were in Mexico the week before the second round. The first-round engagement included meetings with U.S. and NAFTA partner negotiators, as well as discussions with agricultural industry representatives from Mexico and Canada. The visit to Mexico offered an opportunity to show U.S. and Mexican NAFTA negotiators the alignment between the two dairy industries on many of NMPF’s key goals before discussions began the following week. The administration’s NAFTA objectives, released in July, capture NMPF’s key priorities in these negotiations. NMPF’s focus now is on working with U.S. negotiators to achieve those goals.

The next stage of negotiations will take place in Canada in late September. Throughout the month, NMPF will engage with Congress and U.S. negotiators on the importance of preserving existing trade opportunities in NAFTA, which includes rejecting new barriers to trade, removing existing trade-distorting policies – such as Canada’s Class 6/7 pricing program – opening Canadian market access opportunities, and updating NAFTA rules on SPS and geographical indications to safeguard avenues for U.S. exports.

NMPF also raised concerns with U.S. trade officials during the Labor Day weekend to a rumored withdrawal by the United States from its free trade agreement with South Korea. In interactions with members of Congress, state governors and the Trump Administration, NMPF and its members said that withdrawing from the 10-year-old U.S.-South Korea FTA would devastate exports to the United States’ fourth-largest dairy export market. Following the Labor Day weekend, the White House indicated it was not planning to pursue withdrawal in the near term.