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Pace of NAFTA Talks Slows Down But Pressure Heats Up

June 13, 2018

President Donald Trump has indicated he may be willing to wait until next year to reach a revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if it means getting a better deal from Canada and Mexico. NMPF continues to believe that the NAFTA talks are critically important and must be concluded, but not if that comes without the improvements the U.S. dairy industry needs.

Some stakeholders involved in the NAFTA talks have recently focused on the possibility of a “skinny” NAFTA, with a limited number of reforms, after negotiators missed Speaker Paul Ryan’s May 17 deadline to deliver a NAFTA rewrite to Congress. However, various administration officials, including Chief Agricultural Negotiator Gregg Doug and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have said that the goal remains to secure better terms from Canada and Mexico. This approach has been strongly encouraged by congressional leaders like House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady and Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch. Moreover, the President himself has vocally and repeatedly touted the importance of Canada making reforms to its dairy system in recent weeks.

NMPF and U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) have been working closely with the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the Agriculture Department and members of Congress to ensure that the dairy industry’s voice is heard and that the administration stands by its pledges to address dairy trade issues regarding NAFTA.

NMPF continues to tell lawmakers and administration officials that the NAFTA renegotiations must address Canada’s dairy trade obstacles, including its Class 7 pricing program and exorbitant tariffs. Secondly, a successful NAFTA deal must preserve U.S. access to the Mexico market, the No. 1 U.S. dairy export market.