Uncertain times for some businesses as NAFTA renegotiations continue

A collapse of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to scrap, could create the most profound disruption for U.S. farmers who produce grains, meats and dairy products sold to Canada and Mexico.

They've been watching a sixth round of NAFTA talks take place in Montreal this week at a crucial time for Canada's beef industry when it comes to trade, with some vaguely positive noises coming out of the talks.

Canada, which this week presented a series of suggestions on how to unfreeze the talks, quickly welcomed the idea. In November, Mr. Trudeau refused to sign the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership after the auto industry lobbied against it, partly because it could complicate NAFTA talks.

It ended with all three countries talking about the next round of talks in Mexico in February and planning for an eighth round in Washington, probably extending the March deadline yet again. So, this round was a step forward. "We have started to really make progress on the bread and butter trade issues". "So this is the opposite of what we are trying to do", he said.

"Good progress" has also been made on customers and trade facilitation and technical barriers to trade, Freeland said.

"When I sat down with Vice President Pence about a month ago", he said, "I said if we lose NAFTA, not only are we going to lose farmers, you might as well roll up rural, downtown western Kansas".

"The United States views NAFTA as a very important agreement".

Trump's comments came as his trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, held a detailed NAFTA meeting at the Swiss ski resort with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

At an event sponsored by the Washington International Trade Association and reported in the Hagstrom Report, Roberts on December 12 urged Trump not to terminate NAFTA and criticized Sen.

He also said the parties were close to wrapping up annexes on chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

Georgia would be among the states hit hardest in the event NAFTA negotiations end without reaching a new deal. "For the next round, we will still have substantial challenges to overcome".

Earlier this month, Trump said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that he was sensitive to Mexican concerns about negotiating during the final stages of their presidential campaign and would be "flexible" on the negotiating timetable.

Friction, however, remains between Ottawa and Washington. Even if the United States makes some small concessions, it's reluctant to concede anything that would clash with the administration's push to reduce trade deficits and to level the playing field for global trade.

Earlier this month, Canada filed a wide-ranging complaint with the World Trade Organisation that charged the USA with violating global trade rules in its investigation of subsidies and other questions.

"U.S. farmers are marketing their products in an uncertain climate", said Darci Vetter, former chief USA agriculture negotiator, and now a consultant to the farm industry group.

Speaking from Montreal during a break in talks on Thursday, Canada's chief negotiator, Steve Verheul, said discussions "went reasonably well" with the United States on automotive rules of origin, which govern what share of a auto must be made in the three countries to be traded freely within the zone. Freeland and Lighthizer have again sparred with the same she-said, he-said arguments over who has a trade deficit with whom and whether the balance of trade is even a valid way to judge the effectiveness of an agreement.

  • Leroy Wright