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National Cotton Council Highlights Need for NAFTA Continuation

Touting the long-term benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the National Cotton Council urged the Trump Administration to keep the U.S. in the trade pact.

NCC said NAFTA has been and can continue to be a positive trading platform for U.S. agriculture, including cotton and textiles.

NCC chairman Ronnie Lee said the NAFTA trading partners of Canada and Mexico are significant markets for U.S. food and fiber exports. With purchases exceeding 1 million bales, Mexico has emerged as one of U.S. raw cotton’s top five export destinations, and NAFTA plays a critical role in North America’s highly integrated textile and apparel supply chain.

“With 95 percent of U.S. cotton exported in some form, we need positive and stable trading relationships with our international customers to maintain a healthy U.S. cotton sector,” said Lee, a Bronwood, Ga.-based cotton producer.

Last week, the Trump Administration gave official notice for NAFTA renegotiation talks.

Now that Robert Lighthizer is finally in place as U.S. Trade Representative, he has provided Congress with the 90-day notice required before the Administration can begin renegotiating NAFTA. Talks are set to begin on or after Aug. 16.

Lightizer said the goal of bringing the three countries to the table will be to enable the U.S. to use the deal to support higher paying jobs and to grow the economy. In a letter to Congress, he said the U.S. is looking to modernize the agreement with new provisions in areas like intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, customs procedures and digital trade.

The NCC’s Lee said as the process of updating and renegotiating NAFTA moves forward, the U.S. cotton industry “urges the administration to stay involved in this important trade agreement and not weaken current provisions.”

“A strengthening of the textile rules of origin and a modernization of NAFTA can lead to an expansion of jobs and exports for our nation,” Lee said. “This is a very sound way to grow our economy.”