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Agricultural Interest Groups and the North American Free Trade Agreement

  • David Orden

This paper evaluates the influence of diverse U.S. agricultural interest groups on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Under NAFTA, licenses and quotas that restricted agricultural trade between Mexico and the United States were converted to tariffs in January 1994 and all tariffs are to be phased out over adjustment periods of up to 15 years. The agricultural provisions of the 1988 Canada-U.S. FTA, which left quantitative barriers intact for dairy, poultry and other sectors, remain in effect for bilateral Canadian- U.S. trade. NAFTA received support from export-oriented U.S. producers of most grains, oilseeds, livestock, and some horticultural products. Opposition was expressed by wheat producers, seeking leverage on Canadian export-pricing issues, and protected sugar, peanut, and winter fruit and vegetable producers. The opposition was not addressed in the side agreements negotiated by the Clinton administration but the agricultural commodity groups were able to bargain for accommodations in the subsequent legislative debate. Final concessions protect U.S. sugar from Mexican competition, provide some transition protection to winter fruits and vegetables, and ensnarl the United States in disputes about Canadian exports of wheat and peanut butter. With these concessions, NAFTA results in essentially no reform of entrenched domestic agricultural support programs in the United States (or Canada) during the lengthy tariff phase-out periods.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4790.

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Date of creation: Jul 1994
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as The Political Economy of American Trade Policy, Anne O. Krueger, ed.pp. 335-382, (University of Chicago Press, 1996).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4790
Note: ITI
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  1. Thomas Grennes & Barry Krissoff, 1993. "Agricultural Trade in a North American Free Trade Agreement," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(4), pages 483-502, 07.
  2. Anne O. Krueger, 1993. "Free Trade Agreements as Protectionist Devices: Rules of Origin," NBER Working Papers 4352, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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