Seafood industry leaders reviewing new USMCA trade pact

The day after U.S. and Canadian government officials announced a deal on a new trade agreement, seafood industry leaders from the neighboring countries expressed optimism about the accord, albeit with some uncertainty as they still pore over the details.

Canada’s participation, which was confirmed late in the evening of 30 September, means a new deal will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, the accord governing trade between the U.S., Canada and Mexico for the past two decades. In late August, Mexican and American officials had reached a tentative agreement on a new deal. 

“Today, Canada and the United States reached an agreement, alongside Mexico, on a new, modernized trade agreement for the 21st Century: the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA),” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a joint statement with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. “USMCA will give our workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses a high-standard trade agreement that will result in freer markets, fairer trade, and robust economic growth in our region.  It will strengthen the middle class, and create good, well-paying jobs, and new opportunities for the nearly half billion people who call North America home.”

Officials from the Fisheries Council of Canada received a high-level briefing on the USMCA on 1 October.

“We look forward to this apparent deal to help heal our trading relationship with the US and lead to more trading opportunities in the future,” said Paul Lansbergen, council president, in an email to SeafoodSource.

The desire to revamp NAFTA has been one leg of a global trade strategy by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump. That strategy has also included numerous proposals to raise tariffs on Chinese imports, including numerous seafood products, as the president seeks to reduce the trade deficit.

The National Fisheries Institute has lobbied heavily in recent months that tariffs on seafood products hurt U.S. jobs as the country imports more than 90 percent of the seafood Americans consume. 

As of Monday, NFI officials were examining what the proposed USMCA deal means for the American seafood industry.

“We’re generally supportive of things that bring much-needed stability to the marketplace but we’re still reviewing,” said Gavin Gibbons, vice president of communications for NFI.

Congress will have 60 days to review the agreement before Trump can officially sign the deal with Canadian and Mexican leaders. Then, the deal must be officially ratified by the U.S. Senate.


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