US, Canada, Mexico sign deal on agriculture in new trade pact
THE agriculture provisions of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) have been praised as an important advancement in the North American trading relationship by US Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney and National Pork Producers Council Director of International Affairs Maria Zieba
THE agriculture provisions of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) have been praised as an important advancement in the North American trading relationship by US Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney and National Pork Producers Council Director of International Affairs Maria Zieba.
Speaking during an event at the Atlantic Council co-sponsored by Politico, Ms Zieba noted that the continuance of zero tariffs on and maintenance of market access of US pork exports to Canada and Mexico are important, reported American Shipper.
'Where we've really had to fight is where we have an uneven playing field and that's usually through non-tariff barriers to trade and not necessarily tariffs,' Ms Zieba was quoted as saying.
'It's usually a country basing their decisions to not accept US products and US pork, specifically, because of how we raise our pigs, which isn't based on any science. It's just based on a gut feeling that they don't like it.'
Speaking before Ms Zieba's statement, Mr McKinney pointed to new sanitary/phytosanitary (SPS) provisions in the agreement, which clarify 'the kind of rigor that science requires' to ensure USMCA members don't erect trade barriers.
Also under the new accord, US wheat farmers have greater access to new markets, Mr McKinney said.
'Wheat on one side of the border in North Dakota was considered 'feed grade,' and the same wheat one mile into Canada was 'food grade,' and let me tell you, there is a difference in price,' he said. 'That's not very fair.'
The US gained modest additional market access for products including dairy and wheat exports but the 'real bonus' are the new SPS and biotech provisions, which will have long-term impacts on North American trade, said Mr McKinney.
He noted a new chapter on biosciences, including new language on gene editing, which includes 'great promise' for disease management in crops or other problems in livestock and/or poultry products.
US dairy farmers had been getting 'hammered' by a Canadian milk pricing policy that resulted in Canada dumping dry milk powder and butter on the world market, before US and Canadian negotiators were able to agree to language to modestly expand Canada's market for US dairy exports and to set rules for the future so 'those kinds of things are kept in check,' Mr McKinney said.
Speaking to American Shipper after the Atlantic Council discussion, Mr McKinney said that the US will have an 'important role' in ensuring that Canada fills those import quotas, noting he believes Canada is well aware that the US government will closely monitor Canada's implementation of the new provisions.
Mr McKinney said he hopes the US Congress finds USMCA in its current form as an 'acceptable package,' noting that post-negotiation tweaks to a trade deal could be another country's 'heartburn.'
'The hope is that the negotiations with the consultation that has taken place will suffice,' he said. 'So we'll keep our fingers crossed. All I know is this is a big damn deal, and I hope it does go through.'