Second Round of NAFTA Renegotiation Talks is History
Maybe it’s President Donald Trump’s criticisms and threats, but representatives of the United States, Canada, and Mexico say they’re making progress toward a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement.
The second round of talks wrapped up yesterday in Mexico City. A third round is scheduled for Ottawa later this month.
Trump threatened as recently as last week to terminate the agreement, perhaps providing urgency to the task at hand.
A joint statement by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo sought to calm concerns that the US was not committed to the agreement. That’s par fr the course these days as cabinet secretaries from James Mattis to Rex Tillerson have distanced themselves from Trump’s pronouncements on other matters.
Lighthizer told reporters that the renegotiation over no chapter has yet been completed, but that advances have been made and that negotiators were working at “warp speed.”
The three chief negotiators also stated they intend to wrap things up by the this year so as to avoid conflicts with 2018 elections in Mexico and the US.
In his statement at the close of the round, Lighthizer said that the three sides “found mutual agreement on many important issues.”
“By the end of this round, we will have tabled text for over two dozen chapters,” he added. “These chapters represent a new modern agreement which, once concluded, will support robust economic growth in North America for decades to come.”
The US delegation has been focused on expanding opportunities for agriculture, services, and innovative industries, Lighthizer noted. “But…we also must address the needs of those harmed by the current NAFTA,” he said, “especially our manufacturing workers. We must have a trade agreement that benefits all Americans, and not just some at the expense of others. I am hopeful we can arrive at an agreement that helps American workers, farmers, and ranchers while also raising the living standards of workers in Mexico and Canada.”
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