Senior Republican members of the Senate Agriculture Committee spent at least part of Tuesday warning others about the consequences for agriculture if the Trump administration decides to formally withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, opened up a weekly phone call with agricultural reporters noting that members of the Trump administration have suggested invoking Article 2205 in NAFTA, which allows withdrawal from the agreement within six months of providing notice of withdrawal.
Grassley said that invoking Article 2205 is not a guarantee that the U.S. would formally withdraw from NAFTA. But the senator seemed to imply that this is a move the Trump administration is considering to accelerate NAFTA talks. Invoking the article "would be a significant signal that the Trump administration is serious about withdrawing from NAFTA," Grassley said.
"I've always said if the administration could negotiate a better deal, I would support that. Who wouldn't?" Grassley said. "If you can get a better deal for America, we ought to get it. But these actions have real consequences in markets and with Americans who do business in each of our neighbors. In agriculture, we already have low prices for numerous crops like corn and soybeans. We shouldn't do anything in Washington to exacerbate the current downturn, taking into consideration Mexico is one of the biggest importers of corn and that's very important to Iowa."
Grassley added the NAFTA talks will be heading into a critical stage as the end of the year nears. He will continue advising the Trump administration as needed, "and I'm going to let them know how important it is that we don't touch the agricultural provisions."
Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, also spoke Tuesday to members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, stressing that Canada and Mexico are to agricultural export markets. Roberts told the Chamber members, "We are fighting a pervasive view that our economy has not benefited from NAFTA, but that is not right." Roberts also warned of the high cost of withdrawing from NAFTA. "You can't put Humpty Dumpty together again once he breaks."
In an early-morning tweet from the majority side of the committee, @SenateAgGOP FACT: over the course of #NAFTA, U.S. ag exports have increased to Canada by 265% and to Mexico by 289%.
A group of car manufactures and others also have formed a new group, Driving American Jobs, with a website declaring "The Great American Comeback" and "We're winning with NAFTA. The group wants people on its website to email a form letter to the president, members of Congress and others supporting NAFTA's impact on the auto industry. https://www.drivingamericanjobs.com
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN
© Copyright 2017 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.