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NAFTA Negotiations Commence

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

(North American Meat Institute)

Officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico last week met in Washington, DC to begin the formal process to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) previously released U.S. negotiating objectives, which include expanding market access for U.S. agriculture and supporting U.S. manufacturing. The Administration also said it would pursue the goal of reducing the trade deficit with Canada and Mexico and would work to strengthen the ability of the U.S. to enforce its trade laws.

Meanwhile, the Meat Institute sent a letter to USTR Robert Lighthizer urging him to oppose efforts by Canada to implement new, unjustified technical barriers to agricultural trade during the NAFTA negotiations. Canada has proposed mandatory front-of-pack nutrition warnings for saturated fat, sodium and sugar as part of the country’s Healthy Eating Strategy, and is considering measures to restrict the marketing of “unhealthy foods” to children.

In the letter, the Meat Institute said Canada’s proposed front-of-pack nutrition warnings will have an inordinately negative impact on consumer packaged foods from the U.S., given the significant market share of branded U.S. products in the Canadian market. By taking this action, Canada is not following existing Codex guidance on nutrition labeling nor is it waiting for the Codex Committee on Food Labeling to provide guidance on front-of-pack nutrition labeling, the Meat Institute argued.

The next round of negotiations is scheduled to take place September 1-5 in Mexico City, Mexico, followed by a round of negotiations in Canada September 23-27. Negotiators will reconvene in Washington in October, with the goal of concluding negotiations by the end of 2017, or in early 2018 at the latest.

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