NAEGA Policy Team Work Comments to USTR on NAFTA

Over the last week NAEGA staff and the NAFTA Policy Team have been working to inform three different comments related to the U.S. Trade Representative’s request for comments on a negotiation of NAFTA.

 NAEGA-NGFA Comments on NAFTA Negotiating Objectives

On Monday, June 12 NAEGA and NGFA submitted joint comments to the U.S. Trade Representative regarding negotiating objectives of the North American Free Trade Agreement. On May 18, President Trump announced his intention to enter into renegotiations of NAFTA with Canada and Mexico, kicking off a 90-day consultation period with industry, Congress and the public. NAEGA and NGFA joint comments laid out five negotiating objectives, including:

  • Maintaining all market access and tariff concessions.
  • Creating a Rapid Response Mechanism.
  • Enhancing science based SPS rules.
  • Adopting risk management and risk assessment procedures that prevent the use of non-tariff barriers that lack scientific merit.
  • Promoting regulatory consistency and cooperation provisions.
  • Strengthening efforts to address TBT matters.
  • Increasing transparency and cooperation on modern agricultural production technologies.
  • Enabling the innovation of information technologies that improve logistics and regulatory implementation to facilitate trade.
  • Ensuring safe, orderly and secure passage for rail and truck freight transportation with member countries.

A copy of the comments can be found here or on the Federal Register.


U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade and NAFTA Comments

On Thursday, June 1 the North American Market Working Group of the U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade held it first consultative meeting with U.S. government ahead of the beginning of NAFTA negotiations. During the meeting, members of the working group met with Sharon Bomer-Lauritsen, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs and Commodity Policy and Jason Hafemiester, Acting Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services. Jason and Sharon briefed the group on the NAFTA negotiation process and the timeline for consultation with industry and Congress.

Following discussion with Sharon and Jason, the working group met in a closed door session to discuss the ongoing chapter-by-chapter analysis of NAFTA being conducted by a sub-group of the working group. The analysis helped inform the working groups comments on negotiating objectives that were submitted to USTR on June 12. A copy of the chapter-by-chapter analysis can be found here. A final copy of the working groups comments to the Administration on NAFTA negotiations can be found here.


 USBCA Comments on NAFTA Negotiating Objectives

This week the U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance (USBCA), which NAEGA is a participant in, submitted comments to the U.S. Trade Representative on negotiating objectives in the upcoming negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement. In the comments USBCA calls on U.S. negotiators to include in NAFTA: 1) a mutual recognition agreement concerning the safety determination of crops intended for use as food, feed and/or for further processing; and 2) development of a consistent approach for managing low-level presence (LLP) of products that have undergone a safety assessment and are approved for use in a third country, but not yet approved for import by a NAFTA-member country.

A copy of the comments can be found here and on the Federal Register.

Ports Alliance Letter to ILWU and PMA

Last week, NAEGA joined a letter from members of the Ports Alliance to the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) regarding early discussion on contract negotiations on the west coast. The letter expresses the signees support of early discussion that have so far resulted in a three-year contract extension offer, and calls for ILWU members to support this extension offer when they consider it later this summer.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

IGTC Activities in London

On June 2-12 Gary Martin and Katy Lee travelled to London, United Kingdom to attend and participate in an IGTC Strategy Session, IGTC Management Council meeting, the International Grains Council (IGC) 2017 Grains Conference and the Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA) Annual Dinner. During the IGTC Strategy Session the IGTC brought together grain trade leaders from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Ukraine and USA in London to discuss IGTC policy, dedicating the most time to two “Focus Sessions” on Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) and plant breeding innovation. As a result of the meeting in London, and the work of the IGTC’s Policy Team on MRLs over the last months, there was the approval of the IGTC’s position on MRLs which is intended to be used as a reference point for global advocacy efforts. The group also agreed on the importance of engaging with the annual meeting of the “Global Low Level Presence Initiative” (GLI) in Rome this week (June 14-15), which will see the governments of Canada and Colombia lead discussions on practical solutions to trade disruptions resulting from unworkable approaches to LLP in the supply chain.

Following the Strategy Session the Management Council met to discuss IGTC operations and finances. On June 6 Gary and Katy attended the IGC 2017 Grains Conference, led by IGC Executive Director Etsuo Kitahara. The sessions included presentations by U.S. grain actors, including Randy Ritchie of Gavilon, Vince Peterson of U.S. Wheat Associates, Jeff Zyskowski of Ardent Mills and Seth Meyer of the USDA. On June 7 Gary attended and represented NAEGA and the IGTC at the GAFTA Annual Dinner.

IPPC ePhyto IAG Meeting – Arlington – June 27-29

NAEGA will host and attend meetings related to the International Plant Protection Convention’s development  of Electronic Phyto-Sanitary Certification.  On June 26-30 Katy Lee, Secretariat of the International Grain Trade Coalition (IGTC) will travel to Arlington, VA to join Gary at three meetings: NAEGA will host the  of  IPPC ePhyto Hub Industry Advisory Group (IAG) on June 27. The IAG is also hosting an Outreach meeting with Foreign Embassy personnel and U.S. government agencies on June 28 at the Embassy of Canada in DC. On June 26, the Embassy of Australia is hosting a related meeting with Peter Neimanis, Director, Business Systems Program, Plant Export Operations for Australia

 The ePhyto Hub IAG provides practical guidance and advice to the IPPC Secretariat on the design, development and deployment of an ePhyto (electronic phytosanitary certification) Solution which consists of a global hub and generic national system to facilitate the international exchange of electronic phytosanitary information by developing countries.

During her stay in Arlington Katy will also be meeting with IGTC member, corporate stakeholders and DC based U.S. government and foreign government stakeholders.

UN GHS Subcommittee Meeting – Geneva – July 10-12

On July 8-12 NAEGA Volunteer Jess McCluer will travel to London, UK to participate in the UN’s Subcommittee of Experts on the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals and its Coorespondence Group. During this mission Jess will be working closely with the International Dry Bulk Terminal Group (DBTG) and its sister organization the International Bulk Terminals Association (IBTA) to monitor and report on developments at the GHS to classify grain as combustible under a proposed chapter to the GHS. Jess, as a member of the GHS’s Correspondence Group, will be monitoring responses and comments to a non-binding guidance on grain as a combustible material that will be presented to the Subcommittee by the Correspondence Group during this meeting.

A copy of the notice to post for this upcoming travel is available here.

USAEDC Attaché Seminar and FAS Consultations – Arlington – July 12-13

NAEGA members and Washington Representatives are invited to attend the annual U.S. Agriculture Export Development Council’s (USAEDC) annual Attaché Seminar in Arlington, VA on July 13. Gary and Ryan will be attending on behalf of NAEGA and representing NAEGA during the USAEDC Consultation meeting with FAS on July 12.

If you are interested in attending the Seminar please fill out this form and submit it to USAEDC.A copy of the Attache Seminar agenda can be found here. Please let Ryan or Gary know if you are interested in contributing to discussions with FAS attaches during the consultations.

Canadian Government NAFTA Consultations

The Government of Canada is seeking public and industry comment on the renegotiation of the North American free trade agreement (NAFTA). The Government is interested in We are in hearing about what aspects or elements of NAFTA have worked well for Canadians and should remain as is and where changes or improvements could be desirable. The notice is part of the Government of Canada’s ongoing domestic consultation process with stakeholders, including provinces and territories, businesses, civil society organizations, labour unions, academia, Canada’s Indigenous peoples, and individual Canadians, and was published in the Canada Gazette on June 3.

Comments can be emailed to by the July 18 deadline. Please let Gary or Ryan know if you would like to participate in these comments.