One of the core promises that swept President Donald Trump into office was that he would renegotiate better deals for the United States with our traditional trading partners. With the announcement of a new trade pact among the United States, Mexico and Canada, we welcomed the tremendous news that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will be, if approved by Congress, replaced by a much stronger agreement. Known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the package will be important for American workers and our economy as a whole, including the agricultural sector, which counts Mexico and Canada in our top three trading partners.
I have long said that I believe our country is located in the best neighborhood on Earth – North America – with valuable allies to our north and south. Though the old NAFTA agreement was considered a generally positive compact for agriculture, there was certainly room for much-needed improvement. Under USMCA, we have created new rules to help our farmers, ranchers and workers better face the challenges of the 21st century economy, which will secure greater access to the Mexican and Canadian markets and maintain and improve the highly productive integrated agricultural relationships we have as nations.
The agreement with Mexico came first, near the end of August, and includes a number of provisions sought by the United States. Importantly, 21st century innovations in agricultural biotechnology are addressed for the first time, including cutting-edge processes like gene editing. These innovations serve as a template for agreements in the future. And we mutually pledge to work together to reduce trade-distorting policies, increase transparency and ensure nondiscriminatory treatment in grading of agricultural products. In addition, the United States and Mexico agreed not to use so-called “geographic indicators” to restrict the marketing of certain cheeses under common names, such as provolone, Swiss, or ricotta, which the European Union had wanted to restrict.
The second piece of the USMCA puzzle was the negotiation with Canada, where key sticking points centered on dairy issues and were among the last to be cleared. Notably, as one of the president’s top goals, the new agreement will eliminate Canada’s unfair “Class 6” and “Class 7” milk pricing schemes, in which Canada has used low-priced products to undercut United States dairy sales in Canada and other international markets. The deal will also crack open additional access to United States dairy into Canada, including products like fluid milk, cream, butter, skim milk and cheese, and will also preserve and expand critical access for United States poultry and egg producers. America’s wheat farmers also get a big win. A reform of Canada’s discriminatory wheat grading process will help United States wheat growers along the border become more competitive. These are all significant victories for American agriculture.
As we celebrate this breakthrough, it is worth noting that there were many detractors who said it could not be done. But the emergence of an agreement is further proof that President Trump’s trade negotiation strategy is working. To strike the best deals possible for the United States, the president has shown that he is willing to walk away from the bargaining table if he feels our country is being unfairly treated. In the case of USMCA, the president’s approach resulted in earnest negotiations among the three nations and a final package which is beneficial for all three countries.
This is not the first major step forward in international trade under the Trump administration, nor do we feel it will be the last. Before President Trump successfully concluded USCMA, he made good on his promise to revise and improve KORUS, the trade pact with the Republic of Korea. Add to these achievements the president’s recent announcement of his intention to negotiate a trade deal with Japan – a significant market for United States agriculture exports that, until recently, had rejected talks of a bilateral agreement with the United States – and growing optimism for a successful trade deal with the European Union, and it is easy to see the dominoes falling. The president is committed to achieving good trade deals for America – including our current issues with China, which I believe we will surmount as well.
The bottom line is this: Free, fair and expanded trade among nations is good for the American economy and our highly productive farmers, ranchers, foresters and producers. The newly minted USMCA goes in the win column for President Trump and his negotiating team, led by our United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer. Our economy, and American agriculture, will be better off for it.
This article appeared in The Spokesman-Review on October 17, 2018.
USMCA Wins Praise as a Victory for American Industries and Workers
The new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement includes key victories for American manufacturers, agriculture, businesses, and workers.
BUSINESS INSIDER: Trump’s New Trade Deal with Canada and Mexico is Winning Early Praise
“Early reviews of President Donald Trump’s new trade pact with Mexico and Canada are positive … The refreshed version of NAFTA will include increased labor protections for workers, increased standards for duty-free auto shipments, increased access to the Canadian dairy market for US farmers, and a slight tweak to the deal’s dispute-resolution system.”
FOX BUSINESS: US Stocks Surge as US, Canada, Mexico Reach Trade Deal
“Stocks surged Monday as Canada and the U.S. reached a trade deal that also includes Mexico, and key changes at the top of major corporations boosted investor sentiment.”
THE WASHINGTON TIMES: Trump Trade Deal with Canada, Mexico Gets American Farmers’ Stamp of Approval
“The Trump administration’s new three-way trade deal to replace NAFTA got a thumbs-up from American farmers. Americans for Farmers & Families spokesman Casey Guernsey, a seventh-generation farmer, said the three-way deal showed Mr. Trump remembered his promise ‘to stand up for rural America. … After years of declining income and months of trade uncertainty, farmers desperately needed a win, and today the Trump administration delivered it,’ he said. ‘While eager to learn the details, I hope that Congress will use this positive momentum to bring this important agreement over the finish line.’”
WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Canada Gave Ground on the Key Issue of Dairy in New Trade Agreement
“Canada gave ground to the U.S. in the North American Free Trade Agreement replacement deal agreed to Sunday by rolling back protections for its domestic dairy industry, providing a victory to American farmers on one of the key points of negotiation.”
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: New NAFTA Shows Trump’s Trade Strategy for Balancing Labor, Business Interests
“The Teamsters have nice things to say about the new North American Free Trade Agreement. Big banks can also claim a victory. … Many labor officials say they’ve been pleasantly surprised with strong language in the agreement pushing Mexico to bolster its unions, including protecting ‘the right to strike.’ American unions have argued that the lack of such provisions in the original NAFTA meant the pact encouraged factories to relocate south of the border in search of cheaper workers.”
NEW YORK POST EDITORIAL BOARD: NAFTA 2.0: Trump Delivers on Another Big Promise
“[I]t’s hard to argue with the result: Trump has once again delivered on a campaign promise that his rivals called a fantasy. A politician who does what he says he’ll do: Imagine that.”
THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT EDITORIAL BOARD: Trade Pact Rings up Trump Victory
“Apparently those hard-line tactics worked, and the president appears well within his right to chalk this up as a victory. Though details were still being finalized for release, it appears that American farmers will secure greater access to Canadian dairy markets…”
TOM ROGAN IN WASHINGTON EXAMINER: From NAFTA to USMCA, Trump Just Got a Win for America
“Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or an independent, you should welcome President Trump’s announcement of the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, on Monday. A replacement for NAFTA, the USMCA will increase U.S. access to Canadian markets and ensure greater centering of the car industry in North America.”
STEVE CORTES IN REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Make North America Great Again
“The USMCA framework showcases the practical genius of our negotiator and entrepreneur-in-chief, President Trump. Unlike the lawyers and bureaucrats who dominate most high political offices, as a global businessman Trump implicitly understands the predicament that American workers and firms face competing against a commercially abusive China.”
CHRISTIAN WHITON ON FOX NEWS: Trump Has Just Revolutionized Global Trade by Replacing NAFTA with USMCA
“Trump administration negotiators reached a major agreement with Canada on trade over the weekend. The breakthrough, which came on the heels of an earlier deal with Mexico, vindicates President Trump’s tough approach to reforming trade and will mark a fundamental turning point for American jobs and global power.”
LIZ PEEK IN THE HILL: Trump’s ‘America First’ Policy Scores a Big Win with New NAFTA Deal
“The new NAFTA, which will be called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), secured some advantages for the U.S. while also giving in to certain Canadian priorities. … More broadly, the new NAFTA shows the world that the Trump White House may succeed in bringing home better trade pacts.”