USTR Releases NAFTA Negotiation Objectives

Violet Powell
July 19, 2017

The United States on Monday said it would work to shrink trade deficits with Canada and Mexico in talks to renegotiate the landmark 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Finally, and not surprisingly, the Trump administration wants to "eliminate non-tariff barriers to US agricultural exports including discriminatory barriers, restrictive administration of tariff rate quotas, other unjustified measures that unfairly limit access to markets for USA goods". It calls for more opportunities for American suppliers for government procurement overseas, such as construction projects, but in the next breath, it insists on preserving Buy American rules that limit such rights for foreigners.

The document is the first step in revisiting NAFTA, allowing formal talks with Canada and Mexico to open in as little as 30 days. The earliest actual negotiations with Canada and Mexico could begin would be August 16.

"The objectives will be very hard to achieve in a negotiation that is concluded this year", said Jeffrey Schott, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she plans to continue standing up for her province's interests.

"There's nothing in there that terrifies establishment Republicans on Capitol Hill or the Mexicans and Canadians who'll ultimately be sitting across the negotiating table", says Jonathan Swan at Axios.

The 18-page, bullet-pointed goals call for closing trade deficits, increasing USA exports and modernizing the 1994 trade agreement that broke down trade barriers between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

"There is consensus that NAFTA needs to change to level the playing field for US workers, but I am greatly concerned that in this important undertaking, the president, by his own objectives, is not qualified to get a deal worthy of American families".

Will Kid Rock the Senate?
The Michigan Senator acknowledged the rumor on Wednesday, saying on Twitter , "I know we both share a love of music". He told the Guardian in 2015 he was inclined towards the middle on certain issues despite being a Republican.

The looming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement is entering "the danger zone" as US congressional representatives look to put their local trade disputes on the national agenda, according to MAAW Law Principal Mark Warner.

In 2015, the U.S. Congressional Research Service concluded that NAFTA's effects were neither damaging nor helpful.

Note: The Trump administration has published a document on its NAFTA renegotiation objectives.

Preserving the use of US trade remedies is also a key objective, the USTR report said. The trade pact has been highly criticized by labor unions and President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise to renegotiate trade deals he dubbed unfair and that he said caused USA job losses. America's persistent trade imbalances break down trade barriers and give Americans new opportunities to grow their exports.

But while the bilateral deficit has increased, trade among the three countries has soared and the deal forms the backbone of cross-border manufacturing arrangements, including for autos.

What Uden and the NCBA do not want is for Trump to heed calls from other agricultural players to make sweeping changes to NAFTA.

In part, officials say a full court press domestically hasn't been necessary because the anti-trade sentiment that has swept the US and Europe is largely absent in Canada, where people realize the country's relatively small market depends on trade for jobs and economic growth. The US should "focus its efforts" on duty-free access and SPS measures, and "leave alone the terms of NAFTA that have greatly benefited the US beef and cattle industry", NCBA said.

Other reports by PlayStation Move reviews

Discuss This Article