Industry organizations praise USMCA being signed
President Trump after signing the USMCA into law; United Fresh president Tom Stenzel was in attendance
Photo courtesy of United Fresh

Industry organizations praise USMCA being signed

Both PMA and United Fresh praised President Trump signing the trade deal into law on Jan. 29.

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January 30, 2020

The Produce Marketing Association issued the following statement on Wednesday, Jan. 29 after the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement was signed by President Donald Trump: 

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was signed into law by the President today, just two weeks after being approved by the Senate and one month after passing in the House of Representatives. This is a trilateral agreement, requiring all three countries’ signatures to go into effect. While this signing is the final step before the agreement becomes law in the United States, Canada’s Parliament has yet to approve it. Some reports predict this could be days away, while others are claiming it could be months.
 
Once all three countries have signed, the agreement will not go into effect (or replace NAFTA) until the first day of the third month after the final signature is received. Therefore, if Canada ratifies the agreement in February, USMCA would become official as of June 1. The three-month period is designed to allow the government a transitional period for implementing language and determining a plan for execution of the agreement.
 

"PMA has been resolute in our support of the passage of USMCA and welcomes the update to NAFTA which has significantly aided the effort to increase year-round availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, ultimately increasing consumption. In 2018, fruits and vegetables represented $4.2 billion U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico and vegetables, fruits and nuts totaled around $12 billion in imports from Mexico to the U.S. in the same year. As demand for fresh fruits, vegetables, and floral grows, the USMCA is necessary to our industries’ ability to maintain supply.

One of the immediate benefits to the produce and floral industries will be greater predictability of trade. With predictability comes confidence which in turn encourages investment in infrastructure and production to support the North American market. The agreement maintains zero tariffs for the trading of fruits and vegetables, modernizes labor provisions and intellectual property rights, and is consistent with PMA’s overarching goals for free and fair trade.

As we move into the next phase of implementation, PMA will continue to focus on the window of influence for the fresh produce and floral industries. Our role will shift from informing on industry concerns to ensuring industry needs are being expressed. We will continue to keep our members and industry informed on developments as USMCA progresses and celebrate the achievement of this important milestone."

On the same day, United Fresh issued its own statement attributed to president and CEO Tom Stenzel: 

Today, President Trump signed the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), marking a major milestone for trade among these three close neighbors. As I attended the signing ceremony this morning at the White House, I was reminded that finalizing this agreement has not been easy or without controversy, but is based on compromise and consensus across many views.
 

Passing a bipartisan trade agreement in 2020 with the United States’ two largest trading partners is a critically important trade policy development. The results show that Republicans and Democrats can compromise when it is in the best interest of the country. And, by modernizing and building upon the NAFTA agreement, our three countries have shown a commitment to free and fair trade that provides certainty to companies doing business across our borders. 

For agriculture, generally, and our fresh produce industry specifically, the agreement does not make everyone universally happy. Are there competitive issues in produce that won’t go away? You bet! But USMCA demonstrates a commitment to consumers in all three countries to allow our free enterprise system to work its magic, providing access to goods and services that consumers want. We do not want artificial trade barriers that government installs, nor tariffs and regulations that skew the balance between market demand and market supply. USMCA provides a clear roadmap that brings certainty to growers, buyers and consumers across our supply chain. Is there still a need for government oversight? Of course. No one approves of giving unfair advantages, whether in subsidizing one competitor or protecting another. Signing USMCA is not the end of trade disputes whether in auto manufacturing, timber or produce – it is the clarification of the rules so all players know the game, with an expectation that all will abide by those rules.

I personally appreciate the role that the United Fresh Board of Directors played in carefully examining all views and reaching its own consensus positions. Their leadership enabled us to speak clearly about this process over the past several years, whether to the industry, or to the Mexican, Canadian and U.S. governments. 

Despite the challenges in finding consensus on trade policy, imports and exports are critical to both producers and consumers in all three countries. We now have an agreement that will serve producers and consumers in all three markets, as well as allied trading partners across the globe. The future of our industry in North America is bright."

The Canadian government is expected to vote on the deal in February with the USMCA officially going into effect three months after that if ratified.