US will try to avoid damaging economy with new tariffs: Treasury secretary

Mexico, Canada and the USA will hold their eighth round of negotiations to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement in early April, and to accelerate the process they will conduct a series of working meetings - involving cabinet officers - before the talks, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said on Monday.

Business owners are most concerned that negotiations could lead to unfair trade terms for either Canada or Mexico.

Mr Trump triggered the renegotiation of NAFTA, which he has called the worst deal the United States ever signed, shortly after taking office.

Seventy five per cent of business owners, regardless of the company's size or location, believe NAFTA will impact their decision-making.

The Trump administration has justified imposing tariffs on grounds that imports of steel and aluminum represent a threat to USA national security.

The proposal has been met with opposition, even from some senior figures in the president's own party.

Paul Ryan, Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, comes from the same state - Wisconsin - where motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson based.

Trump also said Canada had to treat American farmers better and called on Mexico to stop drugs "from pouring into the U.S". Owners believe there could be opportunities from the NAFTA talks such as more access to the US market and fair competition, better access to other worldwide markets if Canada strengthens its ties with other countries, and better and fairer labour standards across all three countries, resulting in more job opportunities.

A U.S. Dollar note is seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo.

He said if three-way negotiations involving the U.S., Mexico and Canada don't work, "we are prepared to move on a bilateral basis".

Last April, the president tweeted that Canada "has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very hard", and that the U.S.

Fernández said trade between the US and Mexico has grown six-fold to around $560 billion a year since NAFTA was implemented in 1994. The EU, in response to this have essentially written a list of products that would start to be taxed if Trump was to tariff EU exports.

Salvador Behar added that the tariff announcement "hasn't contaminated the mood" of the current talks but said that it was "an irritation for Mexico and many other countries".

"I can assure you that Director [Gary] Cohn and myself have received lots of feedback on all these issues and we're balancing various issues", Mnuchin said, referring to the head of the National Economic Council who has opposed moving to impose the steep tariffs.

"He's got an electorate he's going to cultivate from here to the first Tuesday of November, and it's about fear of Mexico, jobs, and so on", Romero said.

Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also signaled the administration is open to exempting countries besides Mexico and Canada from the tariffs. "It's the wrong way to incentivize the creation of a new & modern NAFTA".

"All of these positions [filled by TN visa holders] are in high demand by qualified US workers".

Progress on an updated NAFTA remains slow with just six of 30 chapters concluded so far.

"Now our time is running very short", Lighthizer said at an event to close a round of talks in Mexico City, standing beside his colleagues Chrystia Freeland and Ildefonso Guajardo.

The clock is ticking before a Mexican general election campaign gets underway next month.

"However, the main concern for Mexico is NAFTA, not the steel tariffs", he said.

  • Leroy Wright