Trump administration starts countdown to NAFTA talks in mid-August

Gladys Abbott
May 19, 2017

U.S. president Donald Trump has repeatedly said the North American Trade Agreement, or Nafta, is the "worst trade deal" the USA, or possibly any country, has ever signed and that it needs to be changed.

Mexico has been a loyal customer with U.S. grain enjoying 99 percent market share, but Trump's aggression toward NAFTA has cracked that loyalty, said Ryan LeGrand, a U.S. Grains Council director based in Mexico.

A group of US retail and apparel industry associations is urging the newly appointed US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, to take a cautious approach to renegotiating NAFTA and ensure renegotiation does no harm to existing supply chains.

It's not a top priority right now for President Trump - for reasons that are all too obvious, and some that might be less so. Trump heavily criticized the TPP during the campaign, and signed a presidential memo to formally withdraw the United States from the deal as one of his first actions in office.

Guajardo met with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in Washington on May 15 and discussed how to replace a current sugar suspension agreement that limits the amount of sugar Mexico may export. "When we lose manufacturing facilities, we lose the thousands of good-paying jobs associated with those facilities, directly impacting middle-class Americans".

The decision to start the 90-day clock to begin negotiations over the deal marks the third time that the President has made a contentious announcement ahead of discussions between the USA and Mexico.

The U.S. had a $62 billion trade deficit with Mexico past year.

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This domestic pressure could ultimately haunt the White House.

"I welcome the administration's effort to improve and update NAFTA for the 21st century economy", Ryan said in a statement. This is the first step toward reshaping a trade deal that became law in 1994 and changed the face of trade in North America. In part, that's because trade represents a surprisingly small portion of the USA economy — 28 per cent in 2015, according to the World Bank, one of the lowest shares in the world. "Relationships are good - deal very possible!" Automakers have said in general they support "modernizing" NAFTA with the hope that Trump's other pro-business policies on initiatives like corporate tax reform will counter balance any steeper tariffs that could come from an overhaul of NAFTA. Trump wrote on Twitter.

In a widely anticipated development, the United States gave formal notice Thursday of its intent to revamp the pact, triggering a 90-day consultation window before formal talks can begin.

He may have signalled it by choosing the day of the NAFTA notice to make another announcement involving Canada, one expected for a while: that the US will explore whether Canadian subsidies could lead to USA duties on Bombardier. John McCain of Arizona and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

Vasante says just last week, Mexican officials were in South America talking about importing corn from Brazil.

Trump has since walked back from his pledge to terminate NAFTA in favor of reworking it. The great challenge of our time is how to address this critical issue - not with an insufficient Trade Adjustment Assistance package tacked onto a free trade agreement, but holistically.

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