May 18, 2017Trump move on NAFTA draws United Fresh response
In a statement issued May 18, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer formally notified Congress specifics on how the Trump Administration intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“As I said when I was sworn in three days ago, I believe the President’s leadership on trade will permanently reverse the dangerous trajectory of American trade,” he said. “Changing that trajectory is why we’re here today.”
In a letter addressed to Chuck Schumer, Orrin Hatch, Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi, Lighthizer stressed the need to modernize the 25-year-old trade agreement.
“For example, digital trade was in its infancy when NAFTA was enacted,” the letter notes. “In addition, and consistent with the negotiating objectives in the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, our aim is that NAFTA be modernized to include new provisions to address intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, services, customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, labor, environment, and small and medium enterprises.”
The administration intends to initiate negotiations with Canada and Mexico “as soon as practicable, but no earlier than 90 days from the date of this notice,” according to Lighthizer.
United Fresh reacts
Following the transmittal to Congress of the letter by Lighthizer that indicates that President Trump intends to initiate negotiations with Canada and Mexico regarding NAFTA, Robert Guenther, Senior Vice President of Public Policy for the United Fresh Produce Association offered the following statement:
“We look forward to working with the Administration, Congress, produce industry colleagues, and our partners in Mexico and Canada to examine effective ways NAFTA can be modernized. The fruit and vegetable industry is highly dependent on international trade, both exports from the United States and imports from critical trading partners such as Mexico and Canada. It is clear that today’s consumers demand 24-7 availability of produce commodities regardless of geographic growing seasons.
“With specifics to NAFTA, there is a strong interdependence of the fruit and vegetable sector across all three countries. Trade across the NAFTA countries serves both consumers and deeply connected supply chains, providing significant jobs not only in agriculture but in processing and distribution. The past 25 years of NAFTA has seen important growth in the fruit and vegetable industry to meet consumer demand. However, there are certainly specific challenges within fresh produce that NAFTA modernization can aggressively address, so we are pleased that this opportunity has been realized by the Administration,” Guenther said.
“Since January, United Fresh has been in constant dialogue with Congress, the Administration and other interested stakeholders to convey that the fruit and vegetable industry needs trade agreements that facilitate trade, rather than erecting barriers that protect specific interests. This includes pursuit of trade agreements that eliminate unfair, discriminatory and non-science-based regulatory barriers that disadvantage the industry both here in North America and throughout the globe. United Fresh will work to ensure that changes to NAFTA reflect those principles.”