June 1, 2018

Steel Tariffs ‘Extremely Unfortunate’ NAFTA Distraction

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

The trade disruption caused by President Trump’s steel tariffs is “extremely unfortunate” in the midst of ongoing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations says Shawna Morris, vice president of trade for U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC).


On Thursday, President Trump announced he would impose previously announced steel and aluminum tariffs on the EU, Canada and Mexico. While the tariffs won’t go into effect until July, our partners have already announced retaliatory tariffs that will impact dairy producers. Canada plans to put a tariff on yogurt and Mexico on cheese.


“We noted the Mexican announcement yesterday that among its intended targets is cheese; at this stage a final list with specifics has not yet been published,” Morris says. “It’s extremely unfortunate that disruptions to trade are happening in the midst of still ongoing NAFTA negotiations.”


According to USDEC, Mexico is the No. 1 market for U.S. dairy product exports, accounting for roughly one-fourth of total U.S. exports. Nearly 30% of U.S. cheese exports go to Mexico.


Earlier this week, negotiators were close to wrapping up a deal until U.S. Vice President Mike Pence asked Canada and Mexico for a five-year sunset clause.  Canada and Mexico immediately responded with “no deal.”


“It’s critical for USTR to work together with Mexico and Canada to bring NAFTA 2.0 negotiations to a successful close so that we can tackle the issues that are problematic in our NAFTA trading relationship – for instance a number of Canada’s dairy policies – and alleviate the anxiety about market impacts from measures like those announced yesterday,” Morris says.



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