U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer this week told Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and members of the House Agriculture Committee the Trump administration will prioritize exports of U.S. agriculture products and that “do no harm has got to be our objective” for upcoming NAFTA talks with Mexico and Canada -- a renegotiation process the panel’s chairman, Mike Conaway (R-TX), described as “unsettling” to the ag community.
[Jenny Leonard] May 24th, 2017 [Inside Trade]
Lighthizer, in a joint press conference with Conaway and Perdue following a May 24 roundtable discussion on U.S. agricultural trade policy, said the U.S. has “something to offer” as the biggest economy in the world, and that he is “confident that people are going to want to talk about our bilateral relationship.”
“We’ll have [free trade agreements] and agriculture will be front of center of every one of them,” he said. “That is a top priority for us. The president has specifically told each of us that this is a very, very top priority. One, not to do any damage. Two, to add to the bottom line. So we expect to do that in this process.”
Asked about NAFTA, and whether the Trump administration’s strategy would be to build on what was negotiated in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Lighthizer said “I think it is, yeah.”
“To use the best language available and sometimes it’s TPP plus; sometimes there are areas where we had a very good idea in TPP negotiations but had to fall back from it,” he said, adding that “it might have been for reasons unrelated to the country with whom we’re speaking.”
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