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Trump Officially Starts NAFTA Renegotiation Countdown

19 May 2017

The Trump administration on Thursday formally notified U.S. Congress of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), triggering a 90-day consultation period before the renegotiation can start.

Last month, NPC provided a letter to the President that offered guidance on how to improve the two decade old NAFTA to the benefit of the potato industry.

The senators noted that NAFTA has led to "tremendous growth" in US trade with Mexico and Canada, and that it has "integrated cross-border supply chains that benefit USA employers, and more than tripled US exports of goods, including agricultural and manufactured goods, and services".

Asked if the Nafta talks would seek to resolve trade disputes over imports of Canadian softwood lumber or Mexican sugar, Lighthizer said he hoped those issues would be settled before the Nafta talks begin under separate negotiations being conducted by the US Commerce Department.

"The planned negotiations should not weaken or undermine Nafta given its many benefits for the United States", the letter said. A year ago the US sold $2.6 billion worth of corn to Mexico. "If that proves to be impossible, then we'll move in a different direction", he said, not ruling out changes to Nafta's structure.

As for the energy sector, a south Louisiana executive noted at a recent trade conference the importance of exporting the state's oil and gas expertise and technology.

The relationship is even more important to the North Country economy, Douglas said.

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Trump made criticism of NAFTA a staple of his presidential campaign previous year, asserting that the United States was at a disadvantage in trade with its northern and southern neighbors.

"We are going to give renegotiation a good strong shot", Lighthizer said, although he refused to say whether leaving NAFTA remained an option. It has been confirmed negotiations will begin no earlier than August 16, 2017.

Canada Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said many USA jobs depend on NAFTA which has created growth throughout the region. A Nafta modernized along those lines would indeed be a better deal than the good one that's already in force. "However, there were worker and firm adjustment costs as the three countries adjusted to more open trade and investment".

Brian Hengesbaugh, data protection partner at Baker McKenzie in Chicago, told Bloomberg BNA May 18 that data privacy and localization provisions requiring companies to store personal data within a country's borders should be included in all trade deals.

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 National Pork Producers Council is urging the president to make sure that tariffs remain at zero for pork traded throughout North America.

Trump has called NAFTA a "horrible deal" for the U.S. He discussed "tweaking" parts of the deal in February, and in April, he threatened to scrap it.

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The letters from Robert E. Lighthizer to leaders in both houses of Congress, including Sens.

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, called it "markedly vague".

NAFTA was signed under President Bill Clinton in 1993. To get a better deal for American workers, farmers and ranchers, and businesses.

National Corn Growers Association President Wesley Spurlock urged Lighthizer to remember the interests of USA agriculture as they begin modernizing the agreement.

Mexican foreign minister Luis Videgaray, speaking at a news conference with secretary of state Rex Tillerson in Washington, said the trade pact needed to be updated after almost 25 years. "I can not emphasize how important our Mexican customers are to USA wheat farmers", says Jason Scott, USW chair. "It is stable and embodies the rule of law", he said.

Trump has repeatedly called NAFTA unfair to the US and a "terrible" deal.

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Trump Officially Starts NAFTA Renegotiation Countdown