The US, Mexico and Canada have finalised a trade deal that will replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement. Representatives from the three countries signed the pact in Mexico.
They met hours after Democrats in US Congress said they would support the deal after the White House agreed to strengthen the labour and environmental rules. The three countries had concluded their talks more than a year ago, but the deal needs approval by legislatures in the three countries before it can move forward.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared the revised pact "infinitely better" than the deal the three countries announced last year. President Donald Trump, who had accused the Democrats of holding up the deal, also declared victory. “The US-Mexico-Canada Agreement will be "the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA. Good for everybody - Farmers, Manufacturers, Energy, Unions - tremendous support," he tweeted.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement after United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced agreement on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA):
Statement from Secretary Perdue
“USMCA is a big win for American workers and the economy, especially for our farmers and ranchers. The agreement improves virtually every component of the old NAFTA, and the agriculture industry stands to gain significantly,” said Secretary Perdue. “President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer are laying the foundation for a stronger farm economy through USMCA and I thank them for all their hard work and perseverance to get the agreement across the finish line. While I am very encouraged by today’s breakthrough, we must not lose sight – the House and Senate need to work diligently to pass USMCA by Christmas.”
The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas
The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) joins many U.S. businesses and consumers to applaud announcements that an agreement has been reached to move ahead with formal adoption of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
“We urge all House and Senate members to vote “yes” for the USMCA. Bipartisan support is crucial in ensuring that there is stability for U.S. companies involved in trade,” said FPAA President Lance Jungmeyer. “This is crucial for the economic growth of all of North America. We appreciate the hard work from Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Neal, and Ambassador Lighthizer in addressing the concerns that now clear the way for passage of this important trade agreement.”
“We are excited to see what the next 25 years will bring within the new framework of the USMCA. So many improvements were adopted to better leverage North American cooperation and collaboration, and that type of close working relationship is what has made the U.S., Canada, and Mexico the strongest trading block in the world,” said Jungmeyer. “The USMCA is the right agreement to bring us into the 21st century and beyond. I look forward to broad, bipartisan support to pass the agreement.”
United Fresh Produce Association
United Fresh also supports the agreement and asks Congress to move swiftly in its passage. “International trade is a critical business tool throughout the entire supply chain of the fresh produce industry,” said Tom Stenzel, President & CEO of United Fresh. “Most importantly with consumers demanding year-round access to fresh produce, we need the certainty of a strong USMCA agreement,” he stated. “United Fresh has always supported free and fair trade globally seeking to open markets to U.S. products while ensuring equivalent access for foreign products to the United States,” Stenzel commented.
Agreement will help expand US potato exports
The agreement is also good news for the US potato sector. National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles said that the agreement should stabilize potato exports to America’s southern neighbor. Currently, over $250 million in U.S. potato products are shipped into Mexico annually, but officials estimate that this could expand dramatically, leading to an additional $100 million in exports because of the agreement. This would make Mexico the top market for U.S. potato exports.
Arizona businesses to benefit
Arizona growers are also pleased with the agreement – many businesses there work in cross border situations and right now workers are moving green peppers that are grown in Mexico. The agreement should make it easier for the companies and growers in the area to conduct their business.
California Fresh Fruit Association
The California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) also announced its support for the agreement and encourages members of congress to support it. CFFA President Ian LeMay stated, “Passage of USMCA would boost both national and rural economies, while at the same time building upon the successes of NAFTA. Our members look forward to continuing to provide the world’s freshest fruit to consumers around the world. Passage of the USMCA will increase U.S. exports and ensure that our country’s trade agreements protect American businesses, farmers and workers.”
Western Growers Association
Tom Nassif, CEO of the Western Growers Association made the following statement in support of the agreement:
“In this turbulent trade environment, American farmers need certainty more than ever. The USMCA not only reaffirms our strong economic ties with our North American neighbors, it offers a new model for how U.S. trade deals should be structured in the future.
“For the fruit, vegetable and tree nut industry, this deal ensures continued access to our top two export markets while making much needed sanitary-phytosanitary (SPS) updates that will improve our defenses against devastating pests and diseases. Additionally, the USMCA achieves groundbreaking labor reforms, requiring Mexico to substantially improve its wages and labor standards, which will improve the competitiveness of our domestic growers in an increasingly global marketplace."