Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Trump intends to renegotiate NAFTA as early as August

US President Donald Trump has formally triggered the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer has sent a letter to congressional leaders, starting 90 days of consultations with lawmakers over how to revamp the pact. "For years, politicians have called for the renegotiation of this agreement, but President Trump is the first to follow through with that promise", said Ambassador Lighthizer. Many chapters are outdated and do not reflect modern standards.

The U.S. wants NAFTA to be modernized to "address intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, services, customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, labour, environment and small and medium enterprises", he wrote.

"NAFTA is the most critical free trade agreement on the books for USA grain farmers, providing open access to countries that are among our top corn, sorghum and barley export markets, as well as significant and growing markets for distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and meat products made using grain", Counsell says.

Lighthizer told reporters that the administration hopes to improve and update the deal rather than abandon it completely.

Mexico's Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray Caso said in a press conference held at the US State Department that Mexico is prepared to "make it better".

Renegotiation of Nafta was a key campaign promise of American president Donald Trump, who frequently said the 23-year-old trade pact was a "disaster" that has drained USA factories and well-paid manufacturing jobs to Mexico.

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"We understand that this is a 25-year-old agreement, when it was negotiated".

"We need to make sure that NAFTA is not a back-door negotiation for the privileged few", said Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians.

Trump has pledged to use the Nafta talks to shrink goods trade deficits that stood at $63 billion (€56.5 billion) with Mexico and $11 billion with Canada past year, according to USA census bureau data.

Trump has labeled NAFTA the worst trade deal in history.

The North American Free Trade agreement or NAFTA took effect in 1994. "We believe the framework of a trilateral agreement is the most suitable and the most convenient for the peoples of Mexico, Canada and the United States".

Canada's minister of foreign affairs, Chrystia Freeland, touted the trade agreement's benefits, including 9 million that rely on trade with Canada. While the US ships more oil and refined products to Mexico than it imports, American refiners are heavy consumers of Canadian oil. "However, there were worker and firm adjustment costs as the three countries adjusted to more open trade and investment".

National Corn Growers Association President Wesley Spurlock urged Lighthizer to remember the interests of US agriculture as they begin modernizing the agreement. "We have been from day one", Freeland said.

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