US Strikes Gentler Tone on Nafta as Countdown to Talks Begins

At the beginning of next week, Trump will send a notification to the US Congress about his plan to readjust NAFTA, what would mark the beginning of a time limit of 90 days to begin the negotiations.

The Donald Trump administration took the first step toward renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, plunging into a battle that pits some Republicans and industry supporters of the pact against Democrats and some of the president's most ardent backers. But the pact did encourage American manufacturers to relocate some operations to Mexico to take advantage of cheaper labor there; so critics blame NAFTA for wiping out USA factory jobs.

Trump has pledged to use the Nafta talks to shrink goods trade deficits that stood at $63 billion (€56.5 billion) with Mexico and $11 billion with Canada past year, according to USA census bureau data.

In the letter to Congress, Lighthizer expressed the Trump Administration's "commitment to concluding the negotiations with timely and substantive results for USA consumers, businesses, farmers, ranchers, and workers". "Many chapters are outdated and do not reflect modern standards", he said. "Central to any successful NAFTA negotiations will be changes to Canada's new policies created to harm bilateral trade and dump their structural dairy surplus on the world market".

The future of NAFTA has been uncertain since Trump announced in November a year ago that he would withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), another trade deal that covers 12 nations.

NAFTA has been generally considered a very successful trade agreement for USA agriculture.

Trump's plan raises further questions regarding IP protection in Canada and Mexico for U.S. owners, said one reader. "As I have often said, if our people continue to grow it, USDA will be there to sell it", said Secretary Perdue.

Like most US congressional Republicans, Mexican and Canadian officials are also wary of major changes that could hurt their exports to the USA or even alter the three-way framework that underpins Nafta. "It is in America's national interest to modernise the agreement".

The group of senators who signed the letter and who represent states that see a significant economic impact from trade said they will maintain a keen interest in the on-going process surrounding NAFTA.

The president, whose campaign trail vows to tear up Nafta appealed to his base of disaffected working-class voters aggrieved by globalization, is under mounting pressure to follow through on his pledge. We remain committed to the goal of a positive, market-expanding and modernized NAFTA.

Councell explained that now all corn products that go into Mexico and Canada are duty-free which creates about $2.7 billion in commodity corn alone.

  • Zachary Reyes