US: NAFTA needs improvements

The North American Free Trade Agreement has been good for the United States, but can use a bit of tweaking, tells southwestfarmpress.com. NAFTA improved trade and reduced tariffs and trade barriers; the original goals set for the trade pact. U.S. trade grew by 192 percent from 1994 (when the agreement was put in place) until 2016. Trade with Canada and Mexico grew by 288 percent.

Export sales to Canada in 1994 totalled 5.5 billion dollars. In 2016, this had grown to 20.2 billion. Imports have also increased: from 5.3 billion dollars in 1994 to 21.6 billion in 2016. Exports to Mexico in 1994 totalled 4.5 billion and rose to 17.8 billion by 2016, while Mexican imports went from 2.9 billion in 1994 to 27.9 billion in 2016.

Vegetables and fresh fruits are the primary ag imports from Mexico. Vegetables, including tomatoes, account for 3.7 billion. The fresh fruit value is 4 billion, with greenhouse tomatoes being the No. 1 import.

There are some frustrations with the NAFTA guidelines, however agriculture is not a major issue. If AG were the only segment involved, NAFTA would likely be renegotiated by now. 

Smooth running of the trade agreement is critical for many US citizens: The US imports 100 percent of its coffee, for instance. Other significant imports include bananas, 99.8 percent; tomatoes, 51 percent; limes, 100 percent and orange juice, 44 percent.

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