The Trump Administration today formally notified the U.S. Congress of its intent to enter into negotiations with Mexico and Canada to “modernize” the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.
A letter from freshly-installed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to Congressional leadership begins a mandated 90-day consultation with Congress before formal negotiations can begin. Additionally, U.S. law requires the President to provide detailed negotiating objectives 30 days prior to the start of negotiations.
“Everyone in rice country and across U.S. agriculture knows how important NAFTA is to our sector’s economic health,” said USA Rice Chairman Brian King. “NAFTA made Mexico our number one export market and solidified our dominant position in Canada. Our message is simple – modernize NAFTA if necessary, but do no harm to the rice industry.”
King, who just returned from leading a rice trade delegation to Mexico, said USA Rice will aggressively demonstrate to Members of Congress and the Trump Administration the importance of NAFTA, the economic benefits it brings to not just rice, but most of the agriculture industry, and the real perils that could result in a poorly renegotiated deal.
“Mexico is our top market and Canada is our number four market because of NAFTA, not in spite of it,” King said. “We will remind the negotiators of this now and throughout the process.”