Viva Fresh Adds Session on the North American Free Trade Agreement
MISSION, TX - U.S. trade policy, namely the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), has been a source of some confusion for the produce industry in recent months, but a newly announced session at the Viva Fresh Produce Expo seeks to banish some of that uncertainty. Viva Fresh’s newly announced session will feature experts discussing the impacts, both positive and negative, of NAFTA on the region’s produce industry.
“In an interactive discussion with the audience, the panelists will focus on the big picture of NAFTA and the role of produce in trade and how potential changes to NAFTA could impact the industry as a whole, as well as potential changes to production costs, consumer pricing, and supply,” explained Melinda Goodman, Chair for the Viva Fresh Produce Expo Educational Committee.
As we all are privy to, foreign trade pacts, including NAFTA, were one of our industry’s most-talked about issues during the 2016 presidential election cycle, and now-President Donald Trump looks to be renegotiating existing international trade deals. As explained in a press release, this stance has provoked uncertainty among members of Viva host Texas International Produce Association (TIPA), as well as throughout the entire produce industry.
"The likelihood of some renegotiation of existing trade deals appears to be imminent,” shared Bret Erickson, President & CEO of the Texas International Produce Association. “It’s important that we understand the broad context of the challenges and opportunities of NAFTA and prepare a list of requirements which best serves the needs of the entire produce industry, as well as US consumers. We must remain focused on the continued economic success of our growers, shippers, packers, importers, and others who strive to provide U.S. consumers with the safest, most abundant, and affordable supply of fresh fruits and vegetables in the world.”
This session will be held at the Hilton Austin Hotel at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, April 21, and will feature the following panelists:
Robert Guenther, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the United Fresh Produce Association
Guenther will moderate the discussion and facilitate audience questions. For the last 17 years, Guenther has represented the fresh fruit and vegetable industry before Congress, the Administration, and regulatory agencies.
Luis Ribera, Ph.D; Associate Professor and Extension Economist at Texas A&M University
Dr. Ribera will be providing insight into the complexities of NAFTA for multiple industries and agriculture, including how the produce industry has evolved since 1993 when NAFTA was signed into law, as well as possible scenarios related to a new trade policy. Dr. Ribera is the Director of the Center for North American Studies and also serves as Program Director for International Projects with the Agricultural and Food Policy Center. He has been an invited speaker in over 250 conferences worldwide, and has brought over $22 million in research and extension funding for his programs.
Ron Lemaire, President of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA)
Lemaire will provide attendees with a Canadian perspective on NAFTA. For over 16 years, Lemaire has worked closely with government and regulatory officials to represent the needs and interests of the over 830 international and Canadian members of the CPMA.
Raul Urteaga, General Coordinator of International Affairs–SAGARPA
Urteaga experience resides in bilateral trade, including service as a commercial advisor in the NAFTA office in Washington D.C., where he helped facilitate the implementation of NAFTA before existing roles including work with SENASICA, and PROMEXICO. Urteaga will speak to the view of NAFTA from Mexico, and how changes in free trade create new challenges and opportunities for business across the border.
For more information on this session and the show at large, visit www.vivafreshexpo.com.