Finance

90 days and counting: What triggering the NAFTA talks means for Canada

90 days and counting: What triggering the NAFTA talks means for Canada

In a letter to congressional leaders U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the administration would start talks on the Nafta deal in as few as 90 days.

The negotiations could begin as early as August 16.

"The United States seeks to support higher-paying jobs in the United States and to grow the USA economy by improving U.S. opportunities under NAFTA, " Lighthizer wrote.

"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.

"As a starting point for negotiations, we should build on what has worked in Nafta and change and improve what has not", Lighthizer said in a conference call with reporters. USTR will consult with "Congress and American stakeholders to create an agreement that advances the interests of America's workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses", he said. But Trump and his administration officials, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who with Lighthizer is leading the charge on trade, have been critical of how NAFTA prompted vehicle and auto parts makers to establish plants in Mexico. "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.

Mexican officials have been eager to begin the negotiations with an eye to concluding them before Mexico's presidential election campaign begins next year.

U.S. congressional mid-term elections in the fall of 2018 may also weigh on the Trump administration to make progress.

The letter is meant to "notify not just Congress, but all our trading partners, that free and fair trade is the new standard for USA trade deals", said Ross, according to The Detroit News.

Luis Videgaray, Mexico's foreign minister, said at an event in Washington Thursday that his country is ready for the talks.

State Dept expresses "concern" over Turkish officials' attack on protesters
The statement said that the US communicated its concerns to the Turkish government "in the strongest possible terms". They "began aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the President".

At a news conference Thursday at the State Department with Mexican officials and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other us officials, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said Mexico "welcomes" the renegotiation of NAFTA.

The groups have repeatedly urged administration officials and legislators to focus on maintaining what has worked well, such as trade with Mexico, the top market for USA dairy exports.

"The agreement is trilateral and should continue to be a trilateral platform. Why?"

Lighthizer's letter is less detailed than a draft sent to lawmakers in March, which listed as objectives tax equality and the ability to re-impose tariffs if Mexican and Canadian imports pose a serious injury threat to USA industry.

US Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said he will be watching the talks to make sure a new trade deal will "prioritize American workers and help to get middle-class incomes and jobs going again". "We can do constructive work together", she said, bringing them up to the 21st century standards Canadians expect.

Canada and Mexico are the second and third largest export markets for the US potato industry, with a combined value of over $500 million annually. However, there are certainly specific challenges within fresh produce that NAFTA modernisation can aggressively address, so we are pleased that this opportunity has been realized by the Administration.

Trump announced the United States' intention to engage in negotiations related to NAFTA on February 2. He once referred to it as the "worst trade deal in the history of the world".

Canada expressed support for NAFTA and said it is already prepared to negotiate.

Pacheco feels the NAFTA negotations might mimic a recent trade deal between US and China that many called lackluster.


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