Trade Renegotiation Could Benefit Deal

President Trump's push to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) still is causing uncertainty for agriculture.

At the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) policy conference, one of the topics was NAFTA.

NASDA Public Policy Director Nathan Bowen says U.S. agriculture depends on export opportunities, and because of that, NAFTA has been a big boost to U.S. farmers and ranchers. Exports to Canada and Mexico have almost tripled since put in place, going from $600 million in 1994 to $1.9 billion in 2015.

On the other side, there could be benefits to going over the deal again, even though the unknowns are not good for commodities.

Bowen says, "Well I think there are those in Canada and Mexico that probably see some opportunities to modernize the agreement from their perspective. I think there's a lot of uncertainty from our trading partners about what exactly this means."

Bowen says they want to make sure as the Trump Administration works on NAFTA that agriculture has a seat at the table.

As they do so, there are ways it could be improved. Measures to increase harmony among the three countries by removing more barriers, as well as a strong sanitary and phytosanitary chapter like what was in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to help with disputes.

Bowen says, "Making sure that the trade that happened between in that block was done in a transparent way, that we had mechanisms to deal with disputes as they came up. We'd be looking for opportunities if there are some, to include some of those tools that were in TPP."
Bowen says discussions could take more time because several members of the Trump administration still need to be officially put in place.