By: Josh McGill
Darci Vetter, international trade consultant, led a discussion at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in New Orleans this week to discuss changing governments and effects on trade policy. Vetter covered several major changes in trade: Brexit, the United States’ withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership and most notably the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“I think it’s still too soon to tell how this industry (produce industry) will fare,” Vetter said. She said the renegotiations could be positive in the fact that they will modernize the agreement. “This is a 24-year-old agreement. There was no internet when we negotiated the NAFTA,” she said. “There are no rules on trade in the digital economy that we’ve seen in more recent trade agreements.” According to Vetter, better rules in this area could be very good for produce.
With the renegotiation just finishing up its fourth round of talks this week, there is a lot of concern with the big differences between the three countries with some of the proposals on the table. One of the proposals that Mexico said is a non-starter is an anti-dumping dispute proposal, which would impose temporary duties on produce on a seasonal basis. This was proposed in part to try to protect tomato, cucumber and pepper growers in the southeastern United States.
“It might make it easier to put duties on tomatoes from Mexico than it was before,” Vetter said. But as of now, she said Mexico does not see the benefit and is not willing to move forward with that proposal.
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