Richard Owen, Ron Lemaire, and Robert Guenther Comment On the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement
NORTH AMERICA - A significant step for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was made last Friday when all three administrations showed their support in signing for it. Industry voices from all three countries showed encouragement for what this signified as the agreement moves forward to Congress for approval.
“This brings certainty back to the marketplace, which is good news for the industry—whether you’re a retailer purchasing from Mexico or a supplier wondering if you can supply one country or the other. It’s not finished, as it still has to be approved by Congress, but it has been agreed upon by all three administrations,” Richard Owen, Vice President of Global Membership & Engagement for the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), shared with me. “NAFTA is 25 years old. It was really the first major trade agreement put in place and a lot has taken place since then, technology and space flow in general. So, this updates reciprocity standards and puts technology into play that wasn’t even on the table 25 years ago.”
The signings took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) noted in a press release it has been actively involved in the negotiations of the USMCA and has worked closely with negotiators since formal negotiations were launched in summer 2017.
“The North American fresh fruit and vegetable industry is a highly integrated and complex system that works to provide Canadians with affordable fresh produce all year round. The USMCA will provide long-term certainty for both industry and consumers in all three countries,” said CPMA President Ron Lemaire. “On behalf of CPMA and its members, I would like to thank the Prime Minister, Minister Freeland, and Minister MacAulay for their steadfast support of the fresh produce industry during these negotiations. The USMCA will increase trade, provide business stability, and bolster our North American competitiveness for generations to come.”
United Fresh also said it has long supported efforts to modernize and improve trade agreements, and Robert Guenther, SVP of Public Policy, told me the team believes that the USMCA does just that.
“Trade with Canada and Mexico in particular is essential to the fresh fruit and vegetable industry. We applaud the signing of a new agreement that serves all respective countries and connected supply chains which will ensure that we can continue to meet consumer demands for more fresh fruits and vegetables. We look forward to working with Congress on its passage next year,” he said.
While this step is one in a positive direction for all parties involved in supporting the USMCA, Richard told me this is an unusual situation as there will be a new Congress to present the agreement come January.
“What’s different this time is you have a new Congress coming in, and they can only approve or not approve it, they can’t change it. What the Administration can do to address concerns of Congress is side letters without changing the agreement,” he explained.
While all associations showed support and said they would be monitoring the ratification process closely, it is too soon to tell where Congress will land. AndNowUKnow, too, will watch with interest as this continues to unfold.