The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement represents a new chapter in North American trade for U.S. refined corn products. Mexico and Canada represent the two largest markets for refined corn products totaling more than $900 million in yearly exports. Replacing the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), USMCA builds on our existing market access, expanding U.S. food and agricultural exports and supporting food processing and rural jobs in America.

Passage of USMCA in Congress was a watershed mark for U.S. trade agreements. USMCA received historic levels of bipartisan support and set the bar for Congressional approval of future trade agreements (House vote, 385 – 41, Senate vote, 89-10).

Exports Grow Under USMCA/NAFTA

  • Shipments of refined corn products to Canada and Mexico have grown 500% since before NAFTA was implemented in 1994 (see graph).
  • Mexico became the leading market for U.S. corn sweeteners, supporting thousands of jobs for farmers and workers in the United States.
  • The increased market access under USMCA is expected to raise U.S. agricultural exports by $2.2 billion.
  • Without USMCA, tariffs on corn products could nearly double the price for products like high fructose corn syrup sold in Mexico, which would likely take American producers out of the market.

USMCA has been, and continues to provide, a tremendous opportunity for the corn refining industry and for many others in the U.S. food, agriculture, and manufacturing sectors.

Significant New Market Access Gains

While nearly 99% of U.S food and agriculture exports enjoyed duty free access to Canada and Mexico under NAFTA, USMCA increases access to Canada’s dairy, poultry, wheat, and alcohol markets. Moreover, USMCA maintains NAFTA’s zero-tariff treatment on other agriculture exports. Increased market access further promotes U.S. trading interests and ensures fair competition with our North American trading partners.

Setting the Bar for Future Trade Agreements

Several new provisions in agriculture were introduced or expanded in USMCA to modernize NAFTA and to create a high-level standard for future agreements including: enhanced sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) enforcement, targeted measures for biotechnology, improved protections on geographical indicators, and increased environmental obligations. Specifically, USMCA:

  • Strengthens disciplines for science-based measures that protect human, animal, and plant health while improving the flow of trade;
  • Addresses agricultural biotechnology – including new technologies such as gene editing – to support innovation and reduce trade-distorting policies;
  • Includes a new intellectual property (IP) chapter that offers enhanced protections for agriculture innovators and institutes a more rigorous process for establishing geographical indicators; and
  • Includes an environment chapter that enforces environmental obligations including prohibitions on harmful fisheries subsidies and introduces articles to improve air quality, prevent and reduce marine litter, and support sustainable forest management.

The United States and Mexico have also negotiated a separate Environment Cooperation and Customs Verification Agreement that will help bolster efforts to combat trade in illegally taken wildlife, fish and timber.