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New Trade Deal Likely Good News for Major Kansas Industries

The new agreement will keep two major markets open for many Kansas crops. (Kansas News Service file photo)

A new trade deal with Canada could be good news for Kansas industries. After all, Canada was the top export destination for Kansas products last year.

The tentative deal with Canada and Mexico would update the North American Free Trade Agreement, which took effect in 1994. Mexico is a major destination for Kansas agriculture exports.

Raj Bhala is a professor at the University of Kansas and he consults on trade law as a senior advisor at Denton's law firm in Kansas City. He said the plan preserves aspects important in Kansas, such as keeping tariffs on many farm products at zero.

“It maintains many of the great benefits that we had in NAFTA,” he said. “It didn’t disrupt. It wasn’t tearing up the agreement.

The new agreement includes tighter intellectual property protections, which will help protect high-tech developments from being copied. That impacts industries such as seed development and animal health.

“They’re strengthened protections, and those are good for the farming and veterinary communities,” Bhala said.

The deal still needs approval from Congress.

Kansas Senator Jerry Moran hailed the deal. He had urged President Trump to make sure Canada was included in any new agreement. Moving ahead with only a U.S.-Mexico trade deal would have created challenges for major Kansas industries, including aircraft production and other manufacturing.

“Withdrawing from NAFTA or excluding Canada from the agreement would have disrupted markets and cost Kansas jobs,” Moran said on the Senate floor.

Moran is also urging President Donald Trump to settle other trade disputes affecting Kansas industry.

“We have a lot of work to do to resolve current trade disputes while building new export markets,” Moran said. “The trade dispute with China has harmed farmers and ranchers when they can least afford it."

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