Vilsack: Complete NAFTA talks before election ‘headwinds’

Former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tells Brownfield there are over-arching NAFTA issues to settle so that Canada’s dairy supply management can be discussed.   Negotiations are in their sixth round this week in Montreal.  Vilsack, now CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, says rules of origin for autos, the dispute resolution system, and NAFTA re-evaluation itself have to be decided so negotiators can get to specific issues.

“There are clearly several issues relative to Canadian dairy that have to be on the table,” said Vilsack, during an interview with Brownfield Ag News Thursday.  “One is reducing tariffs and making sure their markets are as open as our markets are, and then secondly, the elimination of the Class 7, which was a system that they designed to make it a little bit easier for them to get rid of some of their powder.”

Vilsack says President Trump is right to ask for NAFTA re-evaluation, but he’d urge him to keep negotiators at the table to complete talks as soon as possible.  “We are facing some political headwinds in Mexico with the Mexican election coming up in the summer,” said Vilsack, “and our own congressional elections in the fall.”

AUDIO: Tom Vilsack (10 min. MP3)

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