Market News & Headlines >> Ag Talks lay Groundwork for NAFTA Renegotiation

The United States, Canada and Mexico have "relatively few" differences on agriculture, considering the $85 billion in agricultural trade that flows between them, top agriculture officials from the three countries said in a joint statement after meeting on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. 

The officials said in the statement that they had reaffirmed a mutual commitment to “keeping our markets open and transparent so that trade can continue to grow.” 

However, some "irritants" are present for each country in the run-up to NAFTA renegotiations, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said at a joint news conference at the Port of Savannah, Georgia. He declined to elaborate. His counterparts, Canada’s minister of agriculture, Lawrence MacAulay and Mexico’s secretary of agriculture, Jose Calzada also did not identify any of the “irritants”. 

"Now is not the time to talk about them. These are family discussions that need to take place," Perdue said. He compared the 23-year-old trade relationship to a marriage. 

“The purpose of this meeting is not heavy negotiations on NAFTA — that will be done by our trade negotiators,” Perdue said. “Rather, it’s important for all three countries that we develop personal relationships of trust and candor with one another as we discuss the issues before us on NAFTA renegotiations.” 

The meetings took place in Perdue’s home state of Georgia, in Savannah.