NAFTA renegotiation talks open amid high expectations

Brunilde Fioravanti
Agosto 16, 2017

Modifying "the worst deal ever" to be friendlier to USA workers is a central tenet of President Trump's trade policy.

Trump recently warned again that he will "terminate NAFTA" if "we don't get the deal we want", but the call from the United States business community in the run-up to the talks has been "do no harm", amid concerns that a new agreement will unravel a complex North American network of manufacturing suppliers built around NAFTA.

On the first of five days of talks, U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer said Wednesday that Trump "is not interested in a mere tweaking of a few provisions and an updating of a few chapters". "We feel that Nafta has fundamentally failed many Americans and needs major improvements". While his administration has launched investigations into unfair trade practices and expanded export markets for certain USA products such as beef in China, it is just now delving into what could prove a drawn-out process to redefine the parameters of a major trade pact. But Stephen Orava, partner and head of the trade law practice at King & Spalding, said that changing NAFTA's "rules of origin" to promote Made-in-the-USA products would prove "complicated" and risk disrupting the intricate supply chains that manufacturers have built across NAFTA borders. The test will be whether negotiators can prove that a new NAFTA agreement can address U.S. concerns. The Canadian and Mexican negotiators defended NAFTA as an economic success story, though they say it needs to be updated to reflect economic and technological changes. Trudeau told the governors, "Free trade has worked", he said. "He doesn't bluff", she said.

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