In comments submitted to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) today, the American Soybean Association (ASA) underscored the importance of maintaining and building on the extensive agricultural trade relationships have developed between the United States and Canada and Mexico through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). ASA’s comments came following announcement by President Donald Trump last month that the U.S. would move to renegotiate the 24-year-old pact.

ASA included in its comments a list of benchmarks that reflect the gains already achieved in increasing U.S. agricultural exports to its NAFTA trading partners, and called on USTR to preserve if not exceed them in the renegotiation. These include maintaining a comprehensive, rules-based approach, and ensuring no backsliding by any party on agriculture or non-agriculture market access commitments.

With regard to biotechnology, ASA urged USTR to pursue stronger language on sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) geared toward enhancing cooperation between regulatory agencies and avoiding trade disruptions related to agricultural production technologies. ASA included suggestions to adopt trade-facilitative residue levels and adventitious presence mechanisms, and to establish in the renegotiation a long-term and formal low-level presence policy (LLP) for biotech trait shipments between the three countries. Looking to support the animal agriculture sector that represents the largest buyer of U.S. soybean meal, ASA included benchmarks to maintain the successful elements of the agreement with regard to dairy entry into Mexico, while targeting greater market access for poultry, egg, and dairy product exports into Canada.

Beyond its specific recommendations, ASA cited the dramatic growth of the Canadian and Mexican markets for U.S. soybeans, and for American agricultural products overall, since the implementation of NAFTA in 1993. In 2015, the U.S. exported $438 million in soy products to Canada, a 220 percent increase from the $199 million sold in 1987. Soy exports to Mexico in 2015 totaled $2.44 billion, nearly 500 percent greater than the $489 million sold in 1993.