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USMCA Trade Pact Signed, but Work Remains

December 13, 2018

In an important step toward ending trade disputes that have harmed U.S. dairy exports, President Donald Trump joined Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in signing the U.S. Mexico-Canada Agreement on Nov. 30 in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, praised the leaders for reaching a deal that preserved the agreement’s duty-free terms for U.S.-Mexico dairy trade; included notable reforms to Canada’s dairy pricing system; created additional dairy-market access; and ushered in beneficial new rules in multiple key agricultural trade areas. Mulhern also noted that work was not yet finished, as Mexican retaliatory tariffs on U.S. cheeses levied in response to U.S. tariffs on Mexican steel still hang over the market, creating a drag on farmers’ prices.

“We appreciate the Trump Administration for continually raising our issues of concern and fighting for a better agreement with Canada,” he said. “We encourage the administration to remo

ve other tariffs that are hampering North American trade, including the steel and aluminum tariffs still imposed on Mexico, and to continue making progress in striking new free trade agreements and resolving ongoing trade conflicts.”

NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council will shortly submit comments to the U.S. International Trade Commission on the USMCA to help the agency analyze the agreement and ensure that dairy producers continue to have a voice in the process. A key focus remains driving home the need to implement the agreement in a manner that keeps with both the letter and the spirit of the deal. ITC will issue its report on the economic merits of the USMCA in early 2019, as part of the Congressionally-mandated Trade Promotion Authority process.

In addition to the headline issues, NMPF worked hard to guard American dairy producers’ interests in the agreement, such as working with negotiators to safeguard existing U.S. cheese sales to Mexico, countering European Union efforts to block the sale of U.S. products.

Looking ahead, NMPF is gearing up for the congressional stage of USMCA approval, working with the Office of the Trade Representative and Agriculture Department to spotlight key implementation areas that need attention and urging the administration to drop its steel and aluminum tariffs in the wake of the USMCA signing.