Nebraska Governor and Grain Groups Host Mexican Trade Delegation

Posted May 19, 2017

In the wake of uncertainty during the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) U.S.ag groups have begun working with a Mexican trade delegation to prevent trade disruption.

Robert Lighthizer, who was sworn in as U.S. Trade Representative on Monday, has spent the past two days on Capitol Hill meeting lawmakers for required talks before he can give Congress the official notification.

"Having these industry leaders here in the United States this week to share how NAFTA has impacted their companies and their country is invaluable to helping us communicate how important strong trade policy with our nearest neighbors is to the continued success of USA grain producers and exporters", said Tom Sleight, president and chief executive officer of the USGC.

On Thursday the Trump administration officially began its effort to renegotiate NAFTA with Canada and Mexico. Last month, White House aides spread word that President Trump was ready to pull out of the agreement. Within hours, the president reversed course, saying he'd seek a better deal first.

Nebraska Corn Growers Association president Dan Wesely says it's important to talk to Mexican officials directly with the recent NAFTA developments because they're a top market for USA and Nebraska corn.

"As I said when I was sworn in three days ago, I believe the President's leadership on trade will permanently reverse the risky trajectory of American trade", he said.

National Corn Growers Executive Vice President Jon Doggett says it's critical to keep NAFTA in place and modernize it, but not do a total revamp.

Lighthizer noted that Nafta has been "relatively successful" for certain sectors of the USA economy, such as agriculture, investment services and energy.

"They get a little reassurance of how important we think trade is", Wesely says.

Trump fired Comey last week, and said later he was unhappy with the FBI investigation, which is looking into possible links between Trump's campaign and the Russian interference in the 2016 election.

NAFTA took effect in 1994 and triggered a big increase in trade among the three countries.

Thursday's letter had fewer specifics.

Lori Wallach, director of the Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, says NAFTA needs a complete overhaul. Or it could take a more aggressive approach, putting pressure on Mexico to reduce the trade gap, perhaps by dropping a value-added tax Mexico slaps on goods coming across the border.

The TPA, which gives lawmakers a yes-or-no vote on amending trade deals, was passed amid tension over whether the USA should sign the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, championed by then-President Barack Obama.