Billings, Mont. — Although R-CALF USA and several other member-groups of the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) had already weighed-in with the Trump Administration on the need to reform the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), on Sept. 1 the CPA did so again, but this time with more specificity. The CPA represents 4.1 million households through manufacturing, farmer and rancher, and labor associations and companies. R-CALF USA is a board member of the CPA.
In its letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the CPA identified 12 specific reforms it states are necessary to make NAFTA work for America. If negotiators cannot achieve all or most of these reforms, the CPA is recommending the United States walk away from the failed agreement.
“The U.S. has a 25-year cumulative trade deficit with Canada and Mexico in the trade of cattle and beef of nearly $32 billion, and the deficit was more than $2 billion in each of the past three years. This mounting deficit seriously harms our domestic cattle markets,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.
“Under NAFTA, U.S. ranchers are forced to absorb Canada and Mexico’s overproduction and the increased imports of undifferentiated Canadian and Mexican beef are driving down domestic cattle prices even when global U.S. exports are growing,” Bullard added.
Four of the coalitions 12 recommended reforms directly impact the U.S. cattle industry. They include reinstating mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) for beef and pork; strengthening NAFTA’s rules of origin to require the origin of meat to be where the animal had been born, raised, and slaughtered; allowing the U.S. to strengthen and better enforce its food safety laws; and providing automatic relief to producers of perishable products like cattle and beef.
Some additional reform recommendations include a rebalancing of lop-sided trade flows, addressing both under- and over-valued currency misalignments, requiring trade disputes to be decided by U.S. courts and eliminate investor state dispute settlement provisions, addressing Canada and Mexico’s use of border adjustable taxes that effectively nullify those countries’ tariff reductions, and requiring NAFTA to sunset every 10 years so the U.S. is not locked into a bad agreement for perpetuity.
Bullard said the group’s recommendations should provide a countervailing force to the tremendous push-back that Ambassador Lighthizer is realizing from self-interested, multinational corporations.
“The current NAFTA benefits a hand-full of multinational corporations at the expense of American ranchers, manufacturers and workers and it’s time for that imbalance to end,” commented Bullard.