The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) – which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) upon ratification by the three countries – was agreed late on Sunday evening following more than a decade of talks.
Groups including Western Growers, the Produce Coalition for NAFTA and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) have already commended the new deal, and on Tuesday PMA vice president of Global Membership & Engagement, Richard Owen, said he too was pleased an agreement had been reached.
“The members of the Produce Marketing Association are pleased that negotiators have concluded discussions on an updated United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on trade,” he said.
“A single agreement is the best way to address the extensive relationships and investments in produce and floral production and sales that have developed in North America.
“This agreement is consistent with our overarching goals of free and fair trade and we hope that the new agreement will be quickly ratified by all three countries.”
He added that the PMA is “encouraged by the certainty” the new agreement provides to companies doing business in North America.
“The 6-year review and 16-year duration of the agreement give confidence for future investment to further build and expand trade among the countries as our members work to supply consumers’ expectations of a vast range of fresh produce and floral products year-round,” he said.
“Some of our members sought provisions on seasonal products not included in the final agreement, and we appreciate commitments from negotiators to continue to examine opportunities to address their concerns.”
Reaction from Western Growers and Produce Coalition for NAFTA
On Monday Western Growers senior executive vice president Matt McInerney said the three countries had reached an agreement to” modernize and rebalance trade.”
“The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will enable food and agriculture to trade more fairly, and could help expand exports of American agricultural products,” he said.
“All food and agricultural products that have zero tariffs under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will remain at zero tariffs.”
Other achievements related to the fresh produce industry include setting standards for agricultural biotechnology.
“For the first time, the agreement specifically addresses agricultural biotechnology to support 21st century innovations in agriculture. The text covers all biotechnologies, including new technologies such as gene editing, whereas the Trans-Pacific Partnership text covered only traditional rDNA technology,” said McInerney.
The Produce Coalition for NATFA, which is made up of leading U.S. and Canadian fruit and vegetable companies that support efforts to modernize the trade deal, today said it “strongly commends” the two countries’ administrations for reaching a “significant agreement”.
“We sincerely appreciate the hard work of Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo in helping to ensure that this agreement was reached. This modernized trilateral trade agreement will enhance U.S. agricultural exports and build on the success of the NAFTA agreement that was put in place in 1994,” it said.
“We commend U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland for reaching an agreement which re-affirms and builds on the commitment to open trade in agricultural products, including fresh produce.
“The USMCA is a significant victory not only for agriculture but for the U.S. economy and U.S. consumers. We look forward to working with House and Senate Members to ensure ratification of this significant new trade agreement.”