ARLINGTON, Aug. 28, 2018 — The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) released the following joint statement after the announcement of a preliminary trade agreement between the United States and Mexico:
“The announcement of a preliminary trade agreement between the United States and Mexico represents a significant, positive step in modernizing and further enhancing North American agricultural commerce that benefits the economic growth and consumers in the hemisphere. We hope this agreement contributes to broader discussions on ways to further integrate agricultural markets between the United States, Mexico, and Canada to provide for increased investment, food security and consumer preference.
We are particularly pleased by what we understand to be a number of efforts to preserve and enhance current trade terms in North America. These include: the retention of zero tariffs on agricultural products traded between the United States and Mexico; the addition of 21st century language to enhance information exchange and cooperation on agricultural biotechnology trade-related matters; an agreement to strengthen disciplines for science-based sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures to facilitate trade; and an agreement that grading standards and services on agricultural products, including grains and oilseeds, will operate independently from domestic registration systems for grain and oilseed varieties. We are hopeful that these benefits will be realized in a final agreement that includes Canada.
Addressing non-tariff trade barriers, as the preliminary agreement reportedly does, is particularly important to facilitating the grain and oilseed trade. We will be reviewing closely the reported inclusion in the preliminary agreement of SPS provisions that would: 1) increase transparency in the development and implementation of SPS measures; 2) advance science-based decision making; 3) improve processes for certification, regionalization and equivalency determinations; 4) conduct systems-based audits; 5) improve transparency for import checks; and 6) enhance the compatibility of SPS measures between the two countries. The new agreement reportedly also would establish a new mechanism for technical consultations to resolve SPS issues between the two countries, which also would be a welcome development.
Despite these clear improvements, we are disappointed by reports that the preliminary agreement removes or weakens key dispute-resolution procedures that currently benefit investors under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These include provisions embodied in Chapters 19 and 20 of the NAFTA. These protections have been utilized successfully by U.S. agriculture to protect long terms investments in Mexico and defend against unjustified legal actions. These protections provide confidence to investors throughout the supply chain and protect industry efforts to create jobs and develop markets throughout North America.
The announcement of a preliminary agreement is an important step toward eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers in North America. In the coming days we urge U.S. and Mexican negotiators to work with Canada and build on the progress already made by this preliminary agreement. We hope these efforts will tackle existing trade-distortive agricultural policies so that an integrated North American marketplace can flourish under a modernized and more open trading system that is a template for future trade agreements.
NGFA and NAEGA look forward to providing further analysis and input once the full details of the preliminary agreement are released.”
The NGFA, established in 1896, consists of more than 1,000 grain, feed, processing, exporting and other grain-related companies that operate more than 7,000 facilities and handle more than 70 percent of all U.S. grains and oilseeds. Its membership includes grain elevators; feed and feed ingredient manufacturers; biofuels companies; grain and oilseed processors and millers; exporters; livestock and poultry integrators; and associated firms that provide goods and services to the nation’s grain, feed and processing industry. The NGFA also consists of 34 affiliated State and Regional Grain and Feed Associations, and has strategic alliances with Pet Food Institute and North American Export Grain Association.
NAEGA, a not-for-profit trade association established in 1912, consists of private and publicly owned companies and farmer-owned cooperatives that are involved in and provide services to the agri-bulk products international trading industry. NAEGA members are exporters of and serve the vast majority of all U.S. grain and oilseeds in international markets. NAEGA’s mission is to promote and sustain the development of commercial export. Through a reliance on member action and support, NAEGA acts to accomplish its mission in markets throughout the world.