Trump administration to launch NAFTA renegotiation

20 Mai, 2017, 04:26 | Author: Claudine Rigal
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Negotiated by President George H.W. Bush and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, NAFTA took effect on January 1, 1994. During the 1992 presidential campaign, independent candidate Ross Perot famously predicted a "giant sucking sound" as NAFTA pulled US factory jobs south of the border into Mexico.

Newly installed US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthi- zer formally notified Congress of the intent to revamp the 23-year- old pact with Canada and Mexico, which accounts for about US$1 trillion (S$1.4 trillion) in annual trade. Lighthizer told reporters that any new deal should do a better job of protecting USA factory workers and should be updated to reflect new technologies.

"The United States seeks to support higher-paying jobs in the United States and to grow the US economy to improving USA opportunities under NAFTA", he wrote. But the pact did encourage American manufacturers to relocate some operations to Mexico to take advantage of cheaper labor there; so critics blame NAFTA for wiping out USA factory jobs. But so did America's trade deficit with Mexico. But the trade gap has widened partly because American consumers are eager to buy relatively low-cost cars and other goods from Mexico.

"The 2015 Trade Priorities and Accountability Act gives farmers, ranchers, the agriculture community and other stakeholders the opportunity to provide input and share our significant expertise with US negotiators". "Mexico is our only $1 billion dairy market; finding a replacement for sales that are so critical to supporting tens of thousands of jobs across this country is no small task, so preserving it is essential".

"Working closely with Congress and following the requirements of the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, we will continue to review elements of NAFTA and, where appropriate, update USA approaches to address the challenges faced by USA consumers, businesses, farmers, ranchers and workers in an increasingly global economy", Lighthizer wrote. "The Peterson Institute for International Economics, a pro-free trade think-tank in Washington, estimates that the USA loses about 203,000 jobs and gains 188,000 annually" on account of two-way trade with Mexico".

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NAFTA was first put into practice in 1994 with the intention to bring North America closer economically by eliminating tariffs and putting in place dispute processes in addition to agreements on labor and environmental standards.

Thursday's letter had fewer specifics. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States.

"Trump's renegotiation plan that leaked in late March described just what the corporate lobby is demanding: using NAFTA talks to revive parts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, like expanded investor incentives to offshore jobs that could make NAFTA even worse for working people". "Furthermore, Canada and Mexico are the United States' top trading partners and empirical evidence shows that all three countries reap significant economic benefits from the relationship".

Lawrence Herman, senior fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute, told BNN Friday he has "great confidence" in Canada's foreign minister and her team to deal with the major challenges that may come from the NAFTA renegotiations.

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