The United States and Mexico have reached a preliminary deal to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. The emerging agreement has big implications for agriculture and automakers in the Ohio Valley.
President Trump has played up his tentative agreement with Mexico’s president, but NAFTA partner Canada has only recently been included in the weeks of negotiations. At an automotive conference in Lexington, Kentucky earlier this month Auto industry representatives stressed the importance of trade with Canada and Mexico.
“Did you know that Canada is Kentucky’s number one customer and that 112,600 jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada?” Federal Government Relations representative for Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association Ann Wilson asked.
In a statement the group supported the progress being made on renegotiating NAFTA but said Canada should be in the agreement. The Trump administrations preliminary deal includes a cap of Mexican motor vehicle parts exported into the U.S. Wilson said higher prices cause by global uncertainty could have a negative impact on employment and economic output.
“The auto sector is built has built its prosperity on the basis of cross border trade,” she said.
Ohio Valley pork producers say it’s too early to know how everything will work out but they’re glad to see their biggest export market coming to a preliminary deal on the trade agreement. The Ohio Valley region has roughly 5,000 hog farmers contributing more than $900 million in product value. Most of those are in Kentucky and Ohio, which rank among the top 30 hog-producing states. West Virginia has a little more than 700 hog farms. Senior Communications Director for the National Pork Producers Council Jim Monroe said one of their priorities is resuming zero tariff access to the Mexican market.
“U.S. pork is highly dependent on exports, we’re a farm sector that is in expansion mode. We have significant demand for our product around the world,” he said.
Monroe said all of the pork producers’ growth is going to come from exports. He said it’s good to see the progress on a trade deal but the uncertainty doesn’t help.