US Trade Rep. Lighthizer says there's no deadline for NAFTA talks

The ministers of agriculture from Mexico, Canada and the United States on Tuesday praised the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Our last worldwide trade brief dealt with Global Affairs Canada seeking comments on NAFTA renegotiations, the increased enforcement of U.S. trade laws, a Trade Case Alert pertaining to anti-dumping import duties for gypsum panels shipped to Western Canada, and a Trade Case Alert dealing with a global safeguard investigation into solar panels imported into the U.S. In this brief, we discuss why Canada should forge ahead with the TPP without the U.S., U.S. retailers' priorities for NAFTA renegotiations, the public comments on NAFTA renegotiations, NAFTA becoming a battleground for trade-related IP obligations, and a Trade Case Alert relating to a Canadian anti-dumping and countervailing investigation being initiated for certain carbon and alloy steel line pipe from Korea.

President Trump's top trade negotiator outlined a tougher line on enforcing USA trade deals and told a Capitol Hill hearing that the new US administration has no self-imposed deadline for overhauling NAFTA with Canada and Mexico. "My hope is that we get it done by the end of the year, but there are a lot of people who think that's completely unrealistic", he said. Mr. Trump contends that NAFTA has cost the USA thousands of jobs. "What we want to do is make sure we work together as a unit".

Josh Nassar, legislative director of the United Auto Workers, said, "it is critical for the Trump administration to drastically overhaul the agreement to ensure that workers are paid wages they can support their families with and have the right to collectively bargain".

Focus on keeping our good customersMaria Zieba, NPPC deputy director of global affairs, recently traveled in Mexico with an industry group and says Mexican buyers of USA pork are concerned about the NAFTA negotiations.

In terms of time, Lighthizer said negotiations will start on August 16 and "we're in the process right now of talking to our negotiating partners about what the first day of the meeting will be".

He noted the U.S.is still discussing the specific start date with its partners.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer received 12,450 comments ahead of a June 27 hearing on NAFTA modernization.

Canada's agriculture minister indicated Wednesday that Ottawa was waiting for the Americans to "set the table" for the NAFTA negotiations.

Lighthizer also said the USA would push for Canada and Mexico to increase their duty-free levels, known as "de minimis", which would liberalize cross-border online shopping.

MacAulay sounded cautiously upbeat about the talks following his first meeting with his US and Mexican counterparts.

Mr. Perdue has said he does not object to Canada's supply managed dairy regime, but does not want its products being exported. Canada was instrumental in striking balances between USA and developing country positions on key IP issues including pharmaceutical data protection and internet service provider liability for third-party copyright infringement.

Mr. Lighthizer also promised to address currency manipulation, a prime concern of Mr. Trump, in the NAFTA talks. He predicted "a giant sucking sound" would be heard as jobs were lost all over the U.S.to Mexico. Farming is one of the few USA sectors to carry a trade surplus, which is projected at $22.5 billion in the year that ends September 30.

"It's important in Georgia, it's important in Canada, important in the USA, and important in Mexico that we develop personal relationships of trust and candor with one another discussing the issues we will have before us", Perdue said. The current tool allows companies to sue governments over regulations that lower their profits.

  • Leroy Wright