During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump delivered a consistent message that he would renegotiate and/or throw out trade agreements that do not “put America first,” specifically referencing the need to keep and increase American jobs. Since winning election, President Trump has followed through on that message with actions such as withdrawing the United States from negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and serving notice that his administration wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These actions have the potential to not only disrupt fruit and vegetable imports and harm a large number of U.S. companies/United Fresh members, but could also generate significant retaliation by other countries toward U.S. exports. The U.S. fruit and vegetable industry, and partners around the globe, need to influence the Trump Administration and Congress to enact only sound agricultural trade policies that preserve opportunities for market access for fresh fruits and vegetables.
United Fresh Position
What's At Stake
President Trump has followed through on his promise to remove the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The produce industry has strongly supported the TPP. We need to advise the Administration of why certain elements of TPP are good for agriculture and seek to implement these policies in one form or another. In addition, Mr. Trump has said he will “renegotiate NAFTA,” which could have a huge disruptive effect on trade among Canada, the U.S and Mexico. After more than 20 years adjusting to NAFTA trade rules, the produce industry must evaluate the pros and cons of any potential changes to NAFTA, and ensure that our voice is heard within the new Administration.
U.S. fruit and vegetable growers and marketers of all sizes can no longer rely on domestic production as the primary source of product to serve the demand of the U.S. marketplace. Consumers today demand year-round availability of produce commodities regardless of geographical growing season. To meet that demand, many U.S. growers have formed partnerships with non-U.S. producers and many have invested in their own operations overseas. The challenge to U.S. producers of overly burdensome regulations, lack of a legal workforce, and lack of political will to address pressing infrastructure issues such as water availability, also push U.S producers overseas.
At the same time, many U.S. producers are dependent upon export markets for a significant and growing proportion of sales. These companies and commodities require trade agreements with other countries that facilitate trade, rather than erecting barriers that protect their internal producers. While opportunities are substantial in the global market, so too are the barriers and challenges.
Therefore, the basic challenge for the global fruit and vegetable industry, including the U.S. marketplace, is creating a trading economy that is open and fair, treating both exports and imports with similar trading standards and scientific evaluation of sanitary and phytosanitary issues.
While we will continue to work on U.S. trade policy that is comprehensive and produces tangible benefits such as increased market access, we must also recognize that trade was one of the major elements of President Trump’s campaign for the presidency, and that he frequently stated his intention to revisit key trading agreements that are already in place such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
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