USA seeks 'impossible' changes to NAFTA for Mexico, Canada — Toyota executive

Violet Powell
October 19, 2017

USA senators, including Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown, pushed for a strong commitment to avoid currency manipulation in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that President Donald Trump withdrew from before lawmakers approved it.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, which encompasses more than 200 retailers, manufacturers and suppliers, added that Nafta's downfall would incur "massive" disruptions in agriculture and manufacturing as well as higher costs for US consumers. Mexico will host the fifth round of talks November 17-21, in Mexico City. "To that end, the parties plan on having a longer inter-sessional period before the next negotiating round to assess all proposals", US Trade Representative Robert Lightizer told reporters on Tuesday while reading from a joint statement.

Lighthizer did not provide any details on what the United States has proposed on agriculture, but he did say at one point that agriculture is always a hard part of trade negotiations due to both economic and social issues.

Mexico's Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal said his country was still striving to bring constructive solutions and not end up "in a lose-lose-lose situation". The U.S. dairy industry has urged Lighthizer to raise the issue of Canadian dairy policies that keep out U.S. products. "Countries are reluctant to give up unfair advantage". Portman and other lawmakers said that provision, which wasn't part of the main TPP text, didn't go far enough. Given that Mexico may be the largest source country for sex trafficking victims in the United States, and that Mexico is ranked as a Tier 2 country on the U.S. State Department's Trafficking in Persons report, we urge you to ensure that any digital trade language in NAFTA does not immunize any company profiting from the commercialization of sex trafficking, at home or overseas.

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Since 2005, the three countries have also made strides on economic and security co-operation, through the North American Leaders Summit - sometimes called the Three Amigos - which began under former president George W. Bush, the report says.

In addition to working on alternatives should NAFTA fail, Mexico is working to strengthen and diversify commercial markets involving the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and modernized trade agreements with the European Union. The U.S. wants to limit companies' ability to appeal government decisions under NAFTA.

The Brookings Institution's Dany Bahar said trade deficits are not the cause of job losses, and called the USA focus misplaced. Freeland said today she doesn't think trade deficits are a good way to judge an agreement, but pointed out that the United States enjoys a surplus in its trade with Canada. "Furthermore, including Section 230 in NAFTA in its current form would export a destructive legal battle that will harm sex trafficking victims advertised in Mexico and Canada".

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