LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Farm Bureau celebrated Thursday’s Senate passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA), ratifying an update to the country’s largest agriculture trading partners.
When fully implemented, USMCA is expected to add $2.2 billion to the amount of agricultural and food exports to Canada and Mexico. The agreement is expected to provide a $65 billion increase in gross domestic product.
“It’s about time we have this agreement ratified,” said Rich Hillman of Carlisle, president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau. “Passage of USMCA will help stabilize the marketplace and will allow the United States to focus efforts on other important trade agreements around the world.
Agriculture provides more than $20 billion annually to Arkansas’s gross state product, with roughly one-third of production from Arkansas designated for the export market.
“On the heels of the U.S-China trade agreement signed on Wednesday, this marks consecutive agreements that will benefit Arkansas farmers and ranchers,” Hillman said. “Anything that benefits Arkansas agriculture also benefits our state’s tax base and, ultimately, the Arkansas economy.”
The agreement will provide new market access for American dairy and poultry products while preserving the zero-tariff platform on all other ag products. Mexico and the United States have also agreed that all grading standards for ag products will be non-discriminatory.
Additional provisions enhance science-based trading standards among the three nations as the basis for sanitary and phytosanitary measures for ag products, as well as progress in the area of geographic indications.
The agreement also includes measures that address cooperation, information sharing and other trade rules among the three nations related to agricultural biotechnology and gene editing.
Implemented in 1994, NAFTA removed barriers to intraregional trade, including agricultural products traded between Mexico and the U.S. and most agricultural products traded between the U.S. and Canada. Agricultural exports from the U.S. to Canada and Mexico have increased from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $40 billion in 2018.
The USMCA agreement was signed by the three countries in November of 2018. The implementing bill for the USMCA was sent to Congress on Dec. 13, 2019. USMCA passed the House on a 385-41 vote on Dec. 19, 2019.