Nation & World

Companies scrutinize new NAFTA deal

Cargill says it's 'encouraged'

Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS

The new trade agreement ends a Canadian-created program for selling skim milk powder in the world market without regulation.
Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS The new trade agreement ends a Canadian-created program for selling skim milk powder in the world market without regulation.

MINNEAPOLIS — A new trade deal the United States reached over the weekend with Mexico and Canada will tamp down uncertainty for American farmers and manufacturers, though concerns remain about a broader trade war.

President Donald Trump on Monday touted the agreement’s safeguards for intellectual property and protections for workers, as well as provisions that he said will help American exporters of a wide range of agricultural products.

He said the agreement closes “loopholes” that allow car companies to assemble vehicles in Canada and Mexico and sell them in the United States duty-free.

“This landmark agreement will send cash and jobs pouring into the United States and into North America — good for Canada, good for Mexico,” Trump said.

The deal removes the prospect of reversion to pre-NAFTA barriers on the movement of food and other goods between the United States, Canada and Mexico. Such a change would have disrupted American farmers, food processors and buyers for several years as growing and buying patterns adjusted.

Cargill, the Minnetonka, Minn.-based company that has facilities in Cedar Rapids, is the one of the world’s largest agriculture processors and a leading trader, issued a cautiously optimistic statement on the new deal while noting it is examining the details.

“We strongly support the continuation of the trilateral trading bloc established 24 years ago between the United States, Mexico and Canada under NAFTA,” Cargill said.

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“The appropriate measure, in our view, is whether USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada) is better than NAFTA, which has transformed North America into one of the world’s most competitive and successful trading blocs,” the company said. “At first glance, we’re encouraged with efforts to modernize some chapters that specifically affect trade in agricultural goods.”

For farmers, the big problem remains the trade war with China, which Trump made clear is not close to resolution.

Tariffs have especially driven down the prices of soybeans and pork. But some farmers remain hopeful that Trump can secure better trade deals for American business in general.

“As someone who has 20 to 25 years of production ahead of me, I may never see this level of trade negotiations in my career again. We have to get it right this time around,” Marc Arnusch, a farmer near Keenesburg, Colo., told Progressive Farmer.

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