U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue (c), Secretary Villalobos Arambula of Mexico (r), Minister MacAulay of Canada, take questions at the opening session of the 2019 Agricultural Outlook Forum “Growing Locally, Selling Globally,” in Arlington, Va., on February 21, 2019.
US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was optimistic a U.S. Mexico Canadian (USMCA) agreement could find approval in the U.S. by this summer. Perdue said the goal for the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations was to “do no harm” and Perdue responded, “Not only have we done no harm, but we have improved every sector including labor, environmental, biotechnology and science. It is a better agreement, and I’m willing to debate that issue point by point with anyone.”
Perdue said the expectation was that the 232 tariffs placed on steel and aluminum tariffs under the guise of protecting national security would be lifted sooner rather than later. While speaking with his counterparts in Mexico and Canada, the three voiced support for a completed USMCA to lead to the removal of the 232 tariffs, and subsequent retaliatory tariffs, between the three nations.
Lawrence MacAulay, Canadian minister of agriculture, shared any tariff causes difficulty, and removal of the 232 tariffs could bring a conclusion to USMCA passage. “We need steel and aluminum tariffs off,” MacAulay said.