Last week Canada was able to come to agreement on a revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) after certain concessions on dairy and other issues were finalized. The revised agreement, dubbed the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) by the Administration, is likely to be considered by Congress at some point in the Spring, according to the National Potato Council (NPC) in the U.S.
“Our first priority was to ensure that the benefits of the original NAFTA were not lost. We are very pleased that the Administration chose to mend it rather than end it,” said John Keeling, NPC CEO.
In all, over $575 million in U.S. potato exports are sent to Canada and Mexico each year. The 0% tariffs on frozen fries heading to Mexico immediately jumped to 20% as a result of retaliation for the steel and aluminum tariffs that the U.S. imposed earlier this year. Unfortunately, those tariffs are unaffected by the new agreement and currently remain in place.
The new agreement contains provisions that were originally agreed to under the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) that seek to limit countries’ ability to use unjustified pest and disease issues as trade barriers. “This ‘SPS+’ provision may be one of the most beneficial and long-lasting reforms for our industry and specialty crops in general,” said Kam Quarles, V.P. of Public Policy for NPC. “Pest and disease issues are barriers that can shut down export markets for years if not decades.”
Source: National Potato Council