Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

Trump administration initiates NAFTA renegotiation process

In a letter to congressional leaders, Mr. Lighthizer said the administration will start talks with Canada and Mexico as soon as 90 days from Thursday, in line with congressional rules on negotiating trade deals subject to expedited consideration by lawmakers.

There also has been some speculation that the United States would seek separate deals with Canada and Mexico, rather than retaining a three-country arrangement. While the US goal of reaching a new deal this year is ambitious, it's not unrealistic if it doesn't seek to radically change Nafta, said Cutler, who served as senior USA negotiator on the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

The Software Alliance (BSA) welcomed the notification to Congress. "BSA commends the administration for its ambition to use the updating of NAFTA as an opportunity to address digital trade issues, such as cross-border data flows, which are crucial to job creation in the modern data economy". In a statement, talks will begin no earlier than August 16, 2017.

U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Royal Oak, criticized the administration's approach to renegotiating the deal in a statement, and called for a series of hearings in the Ways and Means Committee before negotiations begin so Congress has complete clarity.

On Thursday, Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to discuss US-Mexico relations.

"If the administration intends on renegotiating NAFTA, it must guarantee growers that new terms won't reverse the significant benefits for US wheat farmers, like duty free access", said David Schemm, president of the North American Wheat Growers.

"We understand that this is a 25-year-old agreement, when it was negotiated". Lighthizer told reporters, "As a starting point for negotiations, we should build on what has worked in Nafta and change and improve what has not". "But there's just no track record (with the Trump administration) on how it will turn out", says John Weinand, a Hazen, N.D., farmer and president of the state Grain Growers Association.

There is no denying that foreign trade deals like NAFTA have hurt hardworking Americans and our manufacturing sector. "NAFTA is a trilateral agreement and the conversations need to be trilateral in nature".

Premier Kathleen Wynne says a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement is an opportunity to improve trade relations for Ontario.

Canada Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said many U.S. jobs depend on NAFTA which has created growth throughout the region. While the USA ships more oil and refined products to Mexico than it imports, American refiners are heavy consumers of Canadian oil.

Though Mexico's traditional ruling party did lose a few presidential elections, the continued involution and deterioration of the Mexican political system since 2000 has put lie to the claim that NAFTA was going to spur meaningful democratization. "However, there were worker and firm adjustment costs as the three countries adjusted to more open trade and investment", the report continued. "We have been from day one", Freeland said.

NAFTA was signed by former President George H.W. Bush in 1992 and came into effect in 1994.

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