House Committee Takes Testimony on NAFTA

The House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee today held a hearing on the North American Free Trade Agreement to learn more about specific issues exporters want addressed as the United States, Mexico and Canada begin renegotiating the trade agreement that went into effect in 1994.

Stan Ryan, president and CEO of Darigold in Seattle, testified that Darigold and other U.S. dairy companies have benefitted from NAFTA through “stronger demand for their milk than would otherwise be the case.”

“NAFTA has been a driving force behind remarkable growth in dairy exports and is the reason the United States’ share today of Mexico’s dairy imports is 73%,” Ryan said, adding that U.S. dairy sales to Mexico have risen to $1.2 billion in 2016 from just $124 million in 1995.

Ryan noted that the preferential tariffs enjoyed by the United States could be undermined if the dairy-specific benefits of NAFTA are watered down in a revised pact. He also said Mexico is negotiating a trade agreement with the European Union and exploring possible agreements with New Zealand and Australia, all of which are significant dairy exporters with an interest in expanded sales to North America.

NAFTA is “the vehicle the U.S. will need to ensure that we remain competitive in that market, should Mexico decide to use its ongoing trade discussions with major dairy exporting nations to open up new inroads to its market,” Ryan said.

He also mentioned the lack of U.S. dairy access to Canada.

“NAFTA modernization discussions are an unmissable opportunity to address just that type of unfinished business in order to truly open up the North American market and put our dairy exports to Canada on par with the vast majority of the rest of the U.S. economy,” Ryan said.

Others offering testimony:

  • Jason Perdue, President of the York County, Nebraska Farm Bureau

“NAFTA has been overwhelmingly beneficial for the vast majority of farmers, ranchers and associated businesses in the United States, Canada and Mexico. U.S. farmers and ranchers across the nation have benefited from an increase in annual exports to Mexico and Canada from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38.1 billion in 2016.

Nebraska exported more than $2.4 billion worth of products to both Mexico and Canada in 2016 with agricultural products making up $1.5 billion — more than half — of that total. Mexico alone is Nebraska’s second-largest trading partner with $1.3 billion dollars’ worth of agricultural products being exported there, which supported nearly 1,200 Nebraska jobs.”

  • Christine Bliss, president, Coalition of Services Industries
  • Althea Erickson, Senior Director – Global Advocacy and Policy, Etsy, Inc.
  • Susan Helper, Frank Tracy Carlton Professor of Economics, Case Western Reserve University
  • Tom Linebarger, Chairman and CEO, Cummins, Inc.
  • Patrick J. Ottensmeyer, CEO, Kansas City Southern
  • Dennis Arriola, Executive Vice President – Corporate Strategy and External Affairs, Sempra Energy
  • Celeste Drake, Trade and Globalization Policy Specialist, AFL-CIO

Source: Southeast Farm Press

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