Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Trump administration initiates NAFTA renegotiation process

The final notice sent Thursday by Lighthizer to Congress described the negotiations with Mexico and Canada as a "modernization" of the trade deal.

National Corn Growers Association President Wesley Spurlock urged Lighthizer to remember the interests of USA agriculture as they begin modernizing the agreement.

"Sectors like manufacturing, particularly with regard to Mexico, have fallen behind", Lighthizer said.

The senators noted that NAFTA has led to "tremendous growth" in US trade with Mexico and Canada, and that it has "integrated cross-border supply chains that benefit USA employers, and more than tripled US exports of goods, including agricultural and manufactured goods, and services".

Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown said he wants the renegotiation to cut the best deal for US workers. "We see this decision as an opportunity to look at how NAFTA could potentially be improved to make the agreement even more effective for the people of Ontario, our workers and businesses".

"Mexico reaffirms its willingness to update NAFTA to face the challenges of the twenty-first century", it said.

Under TPP, Vietnamese rice would have preferential access to Mexico, Hayes said. Talks with Canada and Mexico can begin after that. The dairy groups have also continued to call for improving market access to Canada and tackling that country's expanding list of protectionist policies and other barriers to US dairy exports.

"This includes pursuit of trade agreements that eliminate unfair, discriminatory and non-science-based regulatory barriers that disadvantage the industry both here in North America and throughout the globe".

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Hayes noted that Louisiana's textile industry lost thousands of jobs following NAFTA, with much of that work moving to lower-cost labor in Mexico.

In January this year, Trump abandoned his country's involvement in the TPP, sparking more uncertainty for the future of NAFTA. The supply chains may have moved, and the investments made in foreign factories may prevent firms from shifting production back to the United States.

"We do have a preference: The agreement is trilateral and should continue to be a trilateral platform", Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told reporters at a briefing with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington.

Cheap subsidized sugar from Mexico is one area of contention for sugar producers in Louisiana. NAFTA took on a starring role during the election campaign past year, with Trump promising voters to either throw it out or renegotiate a deal he claims sent millions of United States manufacturing jobs to Mexico.

A law called the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 sets timetables on how a President's administration can go about negotiating deals.

In the formal notification to Congress, Lighthizer said NAFTA had not kept up with changes in the economy and business over the last 25 years, including the boom in e-commerce. "Strong worldwide trade agreements mean consumers end up with more options and US insurers can continue to create jobs and invest in the U.S".

Lighthizer cited a lack of modernity in light of more recent digital trade developments as the reason for renegotiation.

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, called it "markedly vague".

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