U.S.

Why Trump's combative trade stance makes US farmers nervous

Why Trump's combative trade stance makes US farmers nervous

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer [official website] sent a letter [text] to Congress Thursday communicating the Trump administration's intention to begin the process of re-negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) [text, PDF]. It said Trump will start negotiations with Canada and Mexico "as soon as practicable, but no earlier than 90 days from the date of this notice". President Donald Trump said repeatedly on the campaign trail that the 23-year trade agreement has sent US manufacturing jobs to Mexico and needs to be redone. During the campaign, then-candidate Trump called NAFTA a "disaster", and renegotiation of the agreement is central to President Trump's "Top Issue" of "Trade Deals that Work For All Americans".

Secretary Tillerson told reporters there is much more to the U.S. Mexico dynamic than NAFTA and "the wall does not define our relationship".

However, Lighthizer may face pushback from businesses because the community "has argued that the pact has done a lot to sustain some US factories by creating more efficient continental supply chains that allowed USA firms to better compete globally". We are ready.to work together with both the governments of the USA and Canada to make our trade agreement better.

In recent speeches, Donohue has said that 14 million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico and that the first objective of the administration should be to "do no harm".

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland welcomed what was a widely anticipated development, promising to consult with Canadians on the best way forward.

Thursday the Trump administration announced to Congress they would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.




It also did not include the type of harsh rhetoric the president has used to describe NAFTA or the trade practices of Canada and Mexico in the past. "We can make this a negotiation that is good for the three parties involved, certainly, under a win-win framework", Videgaray said, according to the State Department transcript.

"While NAFTA has been an overall positive for American agriculture, any trade deal can always be improved", said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in response to the announcement. Talks with Canada and Mexico can begin after that.

The National Foreign Trade Council, a pro-trade business group, echoed the sentiments of many economists in highlighting the benefits NAFTA has delivered to all the member nations, noting Canada and Mexico are the largest export markets for USA goods. "Unlike Mexico, it does not enjoy a trade surplus with the USA; while it sells more goods to the US than it buys, a sizable services trade deficit with its southern neighbour brings the overall balance to -$11.9 billion in 2015". "It is in America's national interest to modernise the agreement".

In February, the Congressional Research Service released a report on NAFTA, which found the trade agreement "did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics or the large economic gains predicted by supporters".

The Trump administration launched the process for opening NAFTA for revisions on Thursday and will likely face pressures from the politically connected USA corn industry to maintain market access to Mexico, one of its biggest customers. "Mexico reaffirms its willingness to update NAFTA".


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