Donald Trump has put in motion the process to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.
On Thursday, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer formally notified congressional leaders by letter that the president intends to start talks “as soon as practicable”, initiating a 90-day period in which congress and the administration will agree the objectives of the negotiations.
Lighthizer told reporters that the administration hopes to improve and update the deal rather than abandon it completely.
Following the letter’s publication, Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at the United Fresh Produce Association released a statement highlighting the “strong interdependence of the fruit and vegetable sector across all three countries”.
“Trade across the NAFTA countries serves both consumers and deeply connected supply chains, providing significant jobs not only in agriculture but in processing and distribution,” the statement said.
“The past 25 years of NAFTA has seen important growth in the fruit and vegetable industry to meet consumer demand. However, there are certainly specific challenges within fresh produce that NAFTA modernisation can aggressively address, so we are pleased that this opportunity has been realized by the Administration.
“Since January, United Fresh has been in constant dialogue with congress, the administration and other interested stakeholders to convey that the fruit and vegetable industry needs trade agreements that facilitate trade, rather than erecting barriers that protect specific interests.
“This includes pursuit of trade agreements that eliminate unfair, discriminatory and non-science-based regulatory barriers that disadvantage the industry both here in North America and throughout the globe. United Fresh will work to ensure that changes to NAFTA reflect those principles.”