Ag Leaders Offer Limited Answers with USMCA Tariff Timeline

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Ag Leaders meet from U.S., Canada and Mexico. ( Betsy Jibben )

USDA Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was joined by his counterparts from Canada and Mexico at the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum. The three gave an update on finalizing the USMCA and overcoming the hurdles associated with steel and aluminum tariffs.

Canada’s Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay and Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture, Victor Manuel Villalobos Arambula joined Perdue and took questions from the audience. All three held the same stance about the importance of USMCA to their countries.

However, the three didn’t have too many answers when asked when steel and aluminum tariffs may be lifted.

“While we are not in charge of [lifting tariffs] necessarily, we recognize in our industry and our sectors, it’s in all of our best interests to see that happen,” said Perdue.

“We see any tariffs to cause some difficulty and economic problems,” said MacAulay. “Of course, it will bring a conclusion to a very important trade deal. We need steel and aluminum tariffs off.”

Ag. Secretary Sonny Perdue has been urging the White house to lift tariffs on U.S. allies Canada and Mexico. He echoes the same message at the Agricultural Outlook Forum saying the sooner we can lift, the better all countries can fully utilize the USMCA agreement.

“I think all of us in our agreement, we would love for [lifting tariffs] to happen,” said Perdue. “I think again the expectation of a completed USMCA agreement would lead to that. I think that was an appropriate expectation in that way.”

Yet, will a deal be completed before or after tariffs are lifted? Farm Journal Washington Correspondent Jim Wiesemeyer says people wonder why President Trump did not lift those tariffs once a deal was finished.

“I think he fervently feels that until [the president] has a quota system or something signed off on with metal tariffs imports into this country by Canada and Mexico, he wants to keep [tariffs] on,” said Wiesemeyer. “Now, that’s contrary to what many people say was his promise along with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to Canada and Mexico during USMCA negotiations. [The mentioned] that once they agreed to an accord, which they did, those metal tariffs would be lifted.”

All three of the agricultural leaders touted how USMCA will be success for all countries involved if ratified. Villalobos Arambula said how how it’s up to us to make it a reality and to get the benefit.

MacAulay said how USMCA could make the countries the ‘envy of the world.’