North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation talks are taking longer than originally expected due to reported disagreements among trade representatives. Although people may be skeptical that a cohesive resolution will be made, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue believes agreements will be made in the end.
AgNet Media’s Abbey Taylor was able to catch up with him in Tallahassee on Dec. 8.
Renegotiation talks were expected to conclude at the end of this year, and now they are bleeding into 2018. However, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer said that was not a firm deadline by any means. Now, officials would like to conclude renegotiations before Mexico’s presidential election in July 2018. Perdue says that a more rigid timeline will help speed along the renegotiation process. He adds that in a trade negotiation, a resolution is usually made in the last moments. “I think trade negotiation is a little bit like I do Christmas — I do my shopping on the 24th,” he says. “That’s typically when these negotiations get done, in the last days.”
As far as disagreements within the renegotiation talks, Perdue does not seem to be worried. He says that although some ideas presented by the United States have been rejected, some have also been accepted and we will continue to move forward. Right now, it is unclear exactly which provisions have been accepted or denied. However, the auto industry seems to be a point of contention as the United States pushes for tougher auto quotas. “That’s what negotiation is all about, starting where you are and coming toward a resolution,” Perdue says.
According to Perdue, he is aware that producers across the country do have and will have concerns as renegotiation talks continue, but he is extremely hopeful for the future of the agreement.
“At the end of the day, I do believe that we’ll get an agreement over NAFTA. I think it’ll be better for American producers, better for the American economy, and that’s exactly what President Trump has asked for,” he concluded.
The sixth round of renegotiation talks is set to take place January 23–28 in Montreal, Canada.
Hear Perdue’s comments: