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PNS Daily Newscast - December 15, 2017 


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Nebraska Farmers Tout Value of NAFTA Ahead of Talks

The Nebraska Farm Bureau has asked the U.S. Trade Representative's office to focus on maintaining the growth in agricultural trade in the NAFTA talks. (U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr)
The Nebraska Farm Bureau has asked the U.S. Trade Representative's office to focus on maintaining the growth in agricultural trade in the NAFTA talks. (U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr)
July 31, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. — Don't underestimate the value of NAFTA - that's the message some Nebraska farm leaders are sending as lawmakers prepare to renegotiate the trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

The North American Free Trade Agreement is more than 20 years old, and Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson said it's been very beneficial for agriculture in Nebraska and other states. He said NAFTA represents about $38.1 billion in trade from 1993 to 2016.

"For Nebraska it's $2.4 billion worth of trade, and more than half of that total is with Mexico,” Nelson said. "Mexico is Nebraska's second-largest trading partner, at $1.3 billion, and it represents about 1,200 jobs in Nebraska."

But Nelson noted the deal could be more efficient with improvements that reduce regulatory costs, expedite cross-border transit and hasten the resolution of disputes between NAFTA partner countries. The first round of NAFTA talks with Canada and Mexico are scheduled to start on August 16.

Nelson said it's very important for these negotiations to move forward quickly. He said folks who sell products directly into Canada and Mexico are experiencing some apprehension with their buyers.

"While they very much prefer the U.S. products that they're buying, they're concerned that if something would happen in this renegotiation that would make it more difficult for them to acquire those products, they need to have other markets, and so they're looking around,” he explained. "All of these things create uncertainty."

After initially calling it the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, President Trump is now calling for the pact to be modestly revamped. The Nebraska Farm Bureau has asked the U.S. Trade Representative's office to focus on maintaining the growth in agricultural trade in the talks.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE