U.S. and Mexico Reach Agreement on Sugar Dispute

June 5, 2017  |  No Comments  |  by Nicole àBeckett  |  Blog

U.S. and Mexico have reached an agreement in the dispute over sugar trade today, according to sources (Reuters). The agreement will prevent a trade war in which the U.S. would have imposed steep tariffs on Mexican sugar imports and Mexico would have responded with equal tariffs on U.S. high-fructose corn syrup.

Details of the agreement are not yet public, but sources indicate the deal was made to benefit both countries. According to the Juan Cortina Gallardo, the president of Mexico’s sugar chamber, the managing of the sugar agreement will set a precedent for how further negotiations will play out (The New York Times). Since NAFTA was first negotiated in the early 1990s, the sugar industry has been the most contentious issue in U.S.-Mexico trade relations.

The current agreement will modify a 2014 agreement in which quotas and a price floor on Mexican sugar acted as an alternative solution to antidumping and antisubsidy duties. U.S. sugar companies had argued that the agreement was not doing enough to counter “unfairly subsidized” Mexican sugar companies, who could sell sugar in the U.S. at a price domestic companies could not compete with.

Stay up to date with the details of the agreement and other international trade news by following Mercatura Global on Twitter.

Commerce Secretary Ross Wants NAFTA Renegotiation by January

June 1, 2017  |  No Comments  |  by Nicole àBeckett  |  Blog

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross indicated Wednesday that the best time period to complete the North American Free Trade Agreement’s negotiation is by early January. By setting this window, the Trump Administration hopes to have the renegotiation done before both Mexico’s general elections and the 2018 U.S. Congressional elections (Reuters).

According to Ross, Mexico’s elections will make the approval of NAFTA more complicated because it needs Mexican congressional approval. Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo also urged for a final deal by the end of this year (Bloomberg). In the U.S., presidential powers to negotiate trade deals that can accepted or rejected by Congress without amendments expires in July 2018, justifying the urgency of the Trump Administration

Ross also said Wednesday that the Commerce Department would impose anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on Mexican sugar and Canadian softwood lumber as part of the renegotiations if settlements over the disputes are not achieved. The Mexican government subsidies sugar companies and Canadian lumber producers utilize government-owned land to produce, making it difficult for U.S. competitors to compete in both industries. Ross hopes to resolve both of these issues before the official modernization of NAFTA.

NAFTA negotiations will formally begin around August 16, following a 90-day period of domestic consultations with U.S. lawmakers, industry, and the public.

Stay up to date with all trade news, including updates on NAFTA, by following Mercatura Global on Twitter. As an advocate of free trade, Mercatura Global can counsel your company on how best to enter international markets and increase your export revenue. To develop your market entry strategy and identify strategic partners, contact Mercatura Global today.

Robert Lighthizer to be Sworn in as U.S. Trade Representative Today

May 15, 2017  |  No Comments  |  by Nicole àBeckett  |  Blog

Robert Lighthizer will be sworn in at U.S. Trade Representative at 3pm today. The occasion comes after a months-long confirmation process, in which he was finally confirmed by an 82-14 Senate vote last Thursday.

Despite the overwhelming consensus, two notable Republicans, John McCain of Arizona and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, voted against his confirmation due to Lighthizer’s stance on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). According to the GOP Senators, they do not believe Lighthizer understands “the North American Free Trade Agreement’s positive economic benefits to our respective states and the nation as a whole” (U.S. News & World Report). They claimed to fear Lighthizer did not appreciate the jobs created by NAFTA and worried he would not be a champion of U.S. agriculture.

The delay on Lighthizer’s confirmation has hindered President Trump’s trade agenda, especially in regard to his goal of renegotiating NAFTA. Before this formal process begins, the Trump administration must send a declaration letter to Congress detailing its intention to initiate negotiations in 90 days (Reuters). Renegotiations would likely focus on Mexico, as the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico has ballooned since the establishment of NAFTA in 1994 and has been largely criticized by the President.

In addition to renegotiating NAFTA, Lighthizer is expected to tackle other trade issues detailed by the Trump administration. This includes establishing bilateral trade deals with allies like the United Kingdom and Japan, and take a tougher stance on China (Politico). Future trade policy will have an “America First” focus, with the goal of bringing back manufacturing and other industrial jobs back to the U.S.

After Lighthizer is sworn in today, the Trump administration will be able to begin acting on measures outlined in President’s campaign. This could mean a lot of changes for trade. To stay up to date with all things related to trade, follow Mercatura Global on Twitter.

Will New Tariffs on Canadian Softwood Lumber Cause U.S.-Canada Trade War?

April 26, 2017  |  No Comments  |  by Nicole àBeckett  |  Blog

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced an increase in tariffs from 3% to 24% on softwood lumber imports from Canada. Most lumber companies in Canada are state-owned and subsidized by the Canadian government, and the U.S.-Canada dispute over softwood lumber is decades old (The New York Times). American mills recently filed a complaint, and the U.S. Commerce department responded by imposing a tariff equivalent to the subsidy amount (24%) on five Canadian companies. For all other Canadian lumber companies, the tariff rate was set at 20%.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross claimed it had been a “bad week for U.S.-Canada trade relations.” This statement also reflects President Trump’s complaints about Canada’s system of protections on its dairy industry, leading to unfair treatment of American dairy farm workers.

Both softwood lumber and the dairy industry were left out of the initial North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, so it is easy for the U.S. to bring up the issues without formal negotiations (Reuters).

In Canada, the country is considering some sort of aid package to the companies that will be hit by the tariff (Bloomberg). In Quebec, 60,000 people work in the forest-products industry, and the province is putting in place a program of loan and loan guarantees that is expected to be worth 300 million Canadian dollars.

In the past, disputes around the softwood lumber industry were always won be Canada. However, if it becomes a legal fight, it is likely that the process will take a few years to be settled. Stay up to date with current U.S.-Canada trade relations by following Mercatura Global on Twitter.

Trump Administration with Seemingly Softer Stance on NAFTA

April 4, 2017  |  No Comments  |  by Nicole àBeckett  |  Blog

A White House draft circulating around Congress reportedly details only minor changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). According to the Wall Street Journal, the proposed NAFTA alterations as mainly “modest” changes while keeping most of NAFTA’s controversial provisions the same.

There were two specific changes outlined by the draft proposal. The first proposal would allow member nations to levy tariffs on imports they consider to cause “serious injury” or “threat of serious injury” to domestic outfits (US News). This proposal could be potentially leveraged against Mexican imports that contribute to the U.S. deficit in goods trade.

A second proposal refers to a section of NAFTA that requires member governments to consider companies based in their foreign counterparts for “public sector procurement” projects such as infrastructure ventures. Under current NAFTA provisions, foreign suppliers are guaranteed to be treated no less favorably than domestic companies competing for the same procurement opportunities (International Trade Administration). With the new provision, rules would be established that require government procurement to be conducted consistent with U.S. law and the administration’s policy.

The letter also supposedly call for leveling the playing field in tax treatment, expanding opportunities for agriculture, and creating stricter intellectual property enforcement and digital protection.

It is likely that this draft will be altered further before any formal NAFTA negotiations, which would be initiated through a formal 9-day notice of President Trump’s intent to revisit the deal. To stay up to date on the future of NAFTA and U.S. trade policy, follow Mercatura Global on Twitter.

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