Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) wrote a letter to Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer regarding the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. In her letter, McSally and her colleagues state their opposition to a seasonality provision in the USMCA, the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The letter garnered bipartisan support from members of both the Senate and House of Representatives from Arizona, California, and Texas. Every member of Congress from Arizona with the exception of Paul Gosar (R-AZ04) co-signed McSally’s letter.
“Cross-border commerce with Mexico is critical to Arizona’s economy and workforce,” said McSally in a press release. “Any seasonality provision incorporated into the USMCA would negatively impact Arizona’s hardworking families with higher costs at the grocery store and dinner table. I have expressed my opposition to such a provision to the Administration and will continue to fight for Arizona jobs and families.”
The following is the full text of the letter:
Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:
We are writing to express our concerns about reports that the administration may be exploring the inclusion of a so-called “seasonality” provision in legislation implementing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. As Members of Congress who support free, fair, and reciprocal trade between the United States and its trading partners around the globe, we strongly object to adding any seasonality provision that conflicts with the intent of the agreement.
We were pleased that a seasonality provision was not included in USMCA when the agreement was finalized by the U.S., Mexico, and Canada last year. Seasonality, whereby certain agricultural products could be subjected to numerous seasonal and regional dumping duties at various times throughout the year, runs counter to the spirit of a free trade agreement intended to tear down both tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade.
Using USMCA as a vehicle for pursuing seasonal agriculture trade remedies risks pitting different regions of the country against each other. And, if successful, this tactic will result in higher prices for U.S. consumers, while reducing availability, selection, and quality in the supermarket aisle for items such as tomatoes, avocados, bell peppers, watermelons, strawberries and blueberries, just to name a few.
Consumers in the U.S. currently enjoy the lowest food costs in the world, with just 6.4 percent of U.S. income going toward food. U.S. per capita consumption of fresh vegetables stood at 126.8 pounds per year in 1993, before the implementation of NAFTA. In 2016, U.S. per capita consumption of fresh vegetables had reached 145.1 pounds per year, a 14 percent increase.
Some fresh fruits and vegetables, however, simply are not available in sufficient volume from the U.S. in certain months. U.S. companies have found significant value in working with farms in Mexico and Canada to produce and export the foods that contribute to healthful eating habits for U.S. consumers.
We strongly oppose the inclusion of any agriculture seasonality provisions in USCMA implementing legislation, as they would run counter to consumer preferences, undermine the spirit of the trinational free trade agreement, and harm U.S. industries in order to artificially support a small segment of regional growers’ interests.
The Mexican Congress recently approved the USMCA. The United States and Canada have yet to ratify the new trade agreement.