The fifth round of North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations wrapped up yesterday. A Politico report describes the talks as relatively quiet.
Canadian negotiators haven’t been making many counteroffers to U.S. proposals. Instead, they’re using closed-door meetings to challenge American proposals with data and to ask for explanations of why the U.S. feels the need for certain things to change. The strategy is reported to be increasingly irritating to U.S. negotiators, who say it does little to advance progress in negotiations. On the last day in Mexico City, negotiators focused on agriculture, technical barriers to trade, auto rules of origin, dispute settlement, and investment.
The agriculture industry is still working to convince officials of just how negative the effect on agriculture would be if America withdraws from NAFTA. Russell Boening, Texas Farm Bureau president, spoke before a Senate Finance Subcommittee hearing in San Antonio. He told the officials that exports helped to offset a serious drop in farm income over the last several years. “Due to the current state of the farm economy, a full withdrawal from NAFTA would devastate the entire American Ag community and our nation,” he says. “We must make sure that doesn’t happen.”