A Nebraska Congressman has returned from the latest round of NAFTA negotiations in Montreal with a renewed sense of the importance the trade agreement has for Nebraska agriculture.
Congressman Adrian Smith says it appears worries the United States would pull out of NAFTA have eased. Still, concerns remain about whether the agreement between the U.S. and its two neighbors needs an update.
Smith says a sticking point seems to be centered on automobile manufacturing.
“There is a concern that low wages in Mexico give that country an unfair advantage,” Smith tells Nebraska reporters in a conference call. “That point of discussion is raised quite often.”
Smith served on the congressional delegation meeting with negotiators, government officials, and business leaders during the latest round of NAFTA negotiations in Montreal.
Smith says the congressional delegation had productive discussions with senior government officials from both Canada and Mexico, including Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Mexico’s Undersecretary for Trade, as well as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the Canadian American Business Council, Farmers for Free Trade, the U.S. Chamber, and the U.S. Consul General to Montreal.
Smith says his constant theme is the value NAFTA has for agriculture.
“Agriculture has seen greater value; our product has seen greater value due in part to NAFTA,” according to Smith. “We do not want to undermine that. That could end up causing even more problems in the ag economy than we are facing right now.”
Smith says it is in the country’s best economic interest to maintain the trade agreements, not just for the value to agriculture, but also the numerous manufacturing and service jobs required to support agriculture.
Smith says NAFTA is a negotiation not even partially complete until it is entirely complete.
This is an updated version of the story. It adds the word “not” in the second quote from Congressman Smith, inadvertently dropped in the original version.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]