Future of NAFTA in the Balance

Key trade and ag senators met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer this week to get an update on the North American Free Trade Agreement that many observers fear the Trump Administration may ditch. And, there may be a new clue on the White House’s intentions.

Five-rounds of NAFTA renegotiations, and still no sign of a breakthrough, but plenty of administration hints, the White House may be willing to pull out of the more than two-decade-old trade deal that’s quadrupled U.S. ag sales to Canada and Mexico.

Among those lawmakers meeting this week with U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert Lighthizer was senior Senate member on the trade and ag panels, Chuck Grassley, who’s heard a new NAFTA pull-out scenario.

Grassley’s staff would not say if the latest meeting with USTR Lighthizer shed any light on NAFTA’s survival, with a January round coming up in Canada. His staff says Grassley pressed Lighthizer about ag and other issues.

Grassley echoes the concern of major farm groups that a NAFTA pull-out would be “disastrous” for U.S. agriculture, with Canada and Mexico as the top two markets for U.S. producers.

The Washington Post reports Mexican officials are in Brussels this week trying to upgrade their existing trade deal with Europe to add grains, meat and dairy, while Mexico continues talks with Argentina, Brazil and Asia.