Earlier this week, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, part of the Executive Office of the President, released the Administration’s Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA Renegotiation. NAFTA, formally known as the North American Free Trade Agreement, took effect more than 23 years ago. Since that time, North American corn trade has boomed with Mexico now the #1 foreign market for U.S. corn, and is a particularly important buyer of IL Corn and corn in all forms. IL Corn joined others in urging the Administration to preserve corn markets as they stand, but in modernizing NAFTA, to look for updates that reflect the current challenges and opportunities in international trade.
Specific to agricultural trade, the Summary of Objectives reads:
- Maintain existing reciprocal duty-free market access for agricultural goods.
- Expand competitive market opportunities for U.S. agricultural goods in NAFTA countries, substantially equivalent to the competitive opportunities afforded foreign exports into the U.S. market, by reducing or eliminating remaining tariffs.
- Seek to eliminate non-tariff barriers to U.S. agricultural exports including discriminatory barriers, restrictive administration of tariff rate quotas, other unjustified measures that unfairly limit access to markets for U.S. goods, such as cross subsidization, price discrimination, and price undercutting.
- Provide reasonable adjustment periods for U. S. import sensitive agricultural products, engaging in close consultation with Congress on such products before initiating tariff reduction negotiations.
- Promote greater regulatory compatibility to reduce burdens associated with unnecessary differences in regulation, including through regulatory cooperation where appropriate.
The Technical Barrier to Trade (TBT) and Sanitary/Phytosanitary (SPS) sections look promising and are very close to what IL Corn supported in comments to the USTR. These sections, partnered with the Agricultural Goods section, indicate to us that the Administration actively listened to agricultural interests, including comments from IL Corn and other organizations, and has engaged on the issues.
IL Corn farmers took meetings on the Hill this week, encouraging non-corn state Congressman to consider our priorities within the framework of NAFTA renegotiations.
Click the link to read the full text of the Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA Renegotiation.