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Marshall shares insights on NAFTA negotiations

Dairy, auto industries remain sticking points

POSTED March 5, 2018 10:53 p.m.
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 WASHINGTON D.C. — Congressman Roger Marshall left Friday for a 48-hour turnaround visit to Mexico City where the seventh round of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations were taking place. He returned to Washington, D.C., early Monday morning.
“U.S. negotiators have made an incredible amount of progress in recent weeks,” Marshall said. “They say it’s always darkest before the dawn, and I have to say I saw the sun come out this weekend while I was there. Almost all of the easy issues have been resolved.”
Going forward, the more contentious issues will be tackled, Marshall said. Those issues include addressing protections for Canadian dairy farmers that have resulted in exports from that country flooding the world market. Because of this, dairy farms in Kansas have been affected, Marshall explained.
“A diary processing plant in Garden City had plans to process dry milk for export to China,” he said. That deal that fell through due to the Canadian dairy supply. “Now we have a lot of dry milk on our hands.”
Canadians pivoted from the dairy conversation to the “de minimis” issue, referring to the amount of foreign products that can be taken across the border without paying duties, Marshall said. Not every country allows the same amount of duty-free product to cross borders.
U.S. negotiators have proposed changes to the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) agreement concerning the auto industry. The U.S. proposes upping the percentage of value added in the United States from 62 percent to 80 percent, Marshall said. Vehicles that fall under that percentage would be slapped with duties. The move is intended to grow jobs in the U.S., he said.
Marshall said President Donald Trump’s announcement late last week that he would place tariffs on steel and aluminum hadn’t affected the NAFTA agreement so far.
“Professional negotiators had things wrapped up mostly last week. Going forward, the announcement didn’t help much,” he said. Canada voiced displeasure and demanded an exemption from these tariffs. “But, we should be able to overcome it and move forward.”
The Executive branch negotiates NAFTA but, ultimately, Congress needs to pass it, he said. He added that the Ways and Means committee understands the importance of NAFTA to agriculture.
“I was honored to be asked to join this trip by Kevin Brady, of the Congressional Ways and Means committee, and represent agriculture in Kansas and across the country,” Marshall said.



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