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NAFTA 20 years later, good overall for Oregon agriculture

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Predictions of doom and gloom made 20 years ago about the North American Free Trade Agreement now appear to have been largely unfounded, at least as far as Oregon agriculture is concerned:

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Audio 01
The establishment of the world’s largest free trade area has helped provide up to a four-fold increase in ag exports from Oregon to both Canada and Mexico:

HANNAPEL:  “Trade between US, Canada, and Mexico hasn’t been more robust. For Oregon specifically, they are our two largest trading partners sending stuff north and south. The tariffs have disappeared, so we’re openly trading between the countries.”  :13

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Audio 02
Trade policy specialist Dennis Hannapel of the Oregon Department of Agriculture says NAFTA has been considered a model for new trade agreements between the US and other countries:

HANNAPEL:  “Over the 20 years, the tariffs between the three countries were phased out on a gradual basis. That’s kind of like the same strategy they are using for the other free trade agreements we are developing now.”  :12

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NAFTA has already helped put more Oregon Christmas trees into Mexico and is poised to do the same for such products as potatoes, blueberries, and cranberries. The agreement has also made it easier for Oregon nursery stock to make its way into Canada. Certainly, the huge rise of Oregon ag exports into the two countries is not all due to NAFTA, but there is no doubt the trade agreement has smoothed the pathway. In Salem, I’m Bruce Pokarney.

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HANNAPEL says a good example how NAFTA has helped Oregon agriculture is Christmas trees getting into Mexico:

“In the recent past, we’ve had some problems with phytosanitary issues, insects and pests like that getting into Mexico. But now with our more transparent relationship with Mexico, we’ve been able to negotiate that particular protocol. We expect this year to be completely problem-free for exports of Christmas trees.”  :17

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HANNAPEL says access to Mexico for a number of Oregon ag commodities has improved thanks to NAFTA:

“We’re looking at Mexico now for potential export markets for some of the specialty crops here in Oregon. We’ve even got conversations now about trying to send some cranberries down there, and blueberries as well, hazelnuts are going down there as well.”  :11

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