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Perdue Says Trump Sees Benefits of NAFTA for Farmers
USAgNet - 01/24/2018

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters that President Trump has come to see that NAFTA has some benefits to the U.S., particularly for farming, even as he stays firm in his demand for a new deal.

"Trump probably left the campaign trail literally believing that NAFTA had not been good for any sector of the economy," Perdue said in an interview at his office on Wednesday in Washington. "But I think that he has now come to realize that agriculture has been benefited by a NAFTA agreement."

According to Bloomberg News, talks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement will continue in Canada this month, with the deal's fate unclear. Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan each said last week they'd rather renegotiate than walk away from the pact with Canada and Mexico altogether, though Trump reiterated his threat to pull out. Canadian officials said last week they believe the odds are rising that Trump will give notice of a NAFTA withdrawal.

The president's more nuanced view on trade shouldn't be confused with a softer approach to the negotiations, Perdue said. Even still, the agriculture secretary's comments may offer some hope for agribusiness lobbyists and other NAFTA supporters who warn that scrapping the accord will bring painful economic costs.

Perdue, considered one of the more trade-friendly administration officials, said he is speaking at least weekly with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who is the lead Nafta negotiator, and other White House staff.

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