NAFTA renegotiation encourages Iowa leaders

As President Trump announces a preliminary trade deal with Mexico, with a Canada agreement possibly on the way, amid efforts to renegotiate NAFTA, Iowa leaders note the state’s dependency on the triangular trade.


Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS

U.S. President Donald Trump listens to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto during a phone conversation on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018 to announce the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C.

Emily Wangen, Politics Reporter


Iowa leaders are confident future trade deals will benefit Iowa farmers with NAFTA renegotiations in the works.

Renegotiating NAFTA was one of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises, noting numerous times that it was a “bad deal” for the U.S. However, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said he believes that NAFTA was a successful trade deal for agriculture.

“From an Iowa standpoint and from an agricultural standpoint, NAFTA is critically important,” Naig said. “We’re very much urging the administration to conclude these negotiations and get to a NAFTA 2.0 as quickly as possible.”

Trump announced Monday a trade deal has been reached with Mexico in a move to renegotiate NAFTA. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said negotiations with Canada have been in the works during a Thursday roundtable discussion with Gov. Kim Reynolds and Naig.

“This is one of the largest trade deals ever made,” Trump said during remarks with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. “Maybe the largest trade deal ever made. And it’s really something very special that two countries were able to come together and get it done.”

Naig said continuing to have zero tariffs is the most important part of a trade deal for Iowa, but he noted he still supports addressing and modernizing NAFTA.

Without tariffs among the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, the organization of the trade agreement created a situation in which Canada and Mexico have become large trading partners of the state, Naig said.

Iowa exported $13.21 billion in commodities last year. Exports to Canada and Mexico composed 47.52 percent of Iowa’s total, with 30.58 percent of those products going to Canada, according to a report from Iowa Economic Development.

Machinery and processed foods were the top two goods exported by the state in 2017; each category brought in approximately $3 billion from all countries. Agricultural products were the fourth-largest export for the state at $1.5 billion, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Canada was also the No. 1 source of imports to the state, growing 6.2 percent from 2016 to 2017, the state library reports.

Naig said he hopes negotiations with Mexico and Canada will build momentum for negotiations with other countries, including China.

Reynolds said on Monday in a press release that she believes the agreement with Mexico is a step further in the pursuit of a trade agreement with Canada, which, she noted, would benefit farmers.

“Iowa farmers want free trade and open markets,” Reynolds said in the release. “As trade negotiations proceed, Iowa farmers will continue to do what they do best — produce.”

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, released a statement noting many of the agriculture products produced in the state have been affected by trade negotiations with other countries.

“Saddled with low commodity prices and escalating trade disputes, today’s announcement that the United States and Mexico have reached a two-way deal on trade is huge news for Iowa’s farmers and ranchers,” she said in the release Monday. “[It] is a monumental step to help restore both market certainty and confidence across rural America.”

Editor’s note (9/5/2018): a previous version of this article stated Iowa exported  $13.21 trillion in commodities. It has been corrected to $13.21 billion. The DI regrets the error.

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