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USTR Moves Forward with NAFTA Renegotiation

USTR Moves Forward with NAFTA Renegotiation

On Thursday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer sent a letter to lawmakers, giving Congress a 90-day consultation period before renegotiations are initiated on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Negotiations with Canada and Mexico will begin no earlier than August 16, 2017. His repeated complaints that bad trade deals destroy American jobs gained him support among working class voters, who helped lift him to the White House.

"Sectors such as manufacturing, particularly with regard to Mexico, have fallen behind, he said". This move is being made in efforts to support higher-paying jobs in the USA, grow the company, and update the Agreement to reflect changes that have occurred since its inception 25 years ago.

Eddy Hayes, chairman of the World Trade Center New Orleans, said NAFTA is 23 years old so it's a good idea to take another look at the agreement.

"We believe today's action signals the beginning of a strong trade agenda for USA exporters".

He also noted that Mexico is one of the countries moving forward on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, created to cut tariffs and boost trade among a dozen countries bordering the Pacific Ocean.

Canada and Mexico both welcomed the American move to launch a Nafta revamp.

The letter from Lighthizer did not mention any specifics, though.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday with the NAFTA announcement "we intend to notify not just Congress, but all our trading partners, that free and fair trade is the new standard for USA trade deals".

"Since the signing of NAFTA, we have seen our manufacturing industry decimated, factories shuttered, and countless workers left jobless".

Late in April Trump had considered a full withdrawal from Nafta, but was persuaded by senior officials in his administration to pursue negotiations instead.

The agreement, which has been in place since 1994, lifted numerous tariffs on trade between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Asked if the NAFTA talks would seek to resolve trade disputes over imports of Canadian softwood lumber or Mexican sugar, he said he hoped that those issues would be settled before the NAFTA talks begin under separate negotiations being conducted by the U.S. Commerce Department.

The U.S. wants NAFTA to be modernized to "address intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, services, customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, labour, environment and small and medium enterprises", he wrote. "One hundred and nineteen days later, he has managed to send Congress a two-page letter that fails to include any real plan to fix a deal that has undermined environmental protections, eliminated jobs, undercut wages, polluted our air and water, and fueled climate change". Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, called it "markedly vague". If so, in addition to voting on approval of the agreement, Congress would work with the Administration to shape the implementing legislation. Their demands would lower to 15% from 53% the percentage of Mexican exports to the US that could be refined sugar, said Juan Cortina, president of the Mexican sugar industry chamber.


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