USA fresh produce firms call for "modernised" NAFTA

USA fresh produce firms call for

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer formally notified congressional leaders in a letter Thursday that the president intends to launch negotiations with Canada and Mexico "as soon as practicable".

With a letter to American lawmakers, United States trade representative Robert Lighthizer said he triggered a 90-day consultation period with Congress, industries and the American public that would allow talks over one of the world's biggest trading blocs to begin by August 16th. In 1993, the Canadian lumber industry won a victory over their US counterparts in a Chapter 19 decision on USA barriers to imported lumber.

The two-page letter offered few details about what changes the administration would seek in the 23-year-old pact that President Donald Trump has called "a disaster".

Lighthizer noted that Nafta has been "relatively successful" for certain sectors of the US economy, such as agriculture, investment services and energy. The chamber's No. 1 request is that renegotiation of the treaty does no harm to the trade relationship between Canada and the United States.

Though manufacturing has dominated much of the discussion about NAFTA, U.S. agriculture has a huge stake, too. Nowhere is the importance of trade stronger than right here in North America. "Unlike Mexico, it does not enjoy a trade surplus with the USA; while it sells more goods to the US than it buys, a sizable services trade deficit with its southern neighbour brings the overall balance to -$11.9 billion in 2015".

The Obama administration attempted to address many of these deficiencies in the 2015 Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which included Canada and Mexico, but Trump pulled out of TPP in one of his first official acts as president.

There is no denying that foreign trade deals like NAFTA have hurt hardworking Americans and our manufacturing sector.

The Trump administration launched the process for opening NAFTA for revisions on Thursday and will likely face pressures from the politically connected US corn industry to maintain market access to Mexico, one of its biggest customers.

She reiterated the government's key message on NAFTA - that it is in fact a good deal for all parties, including the USA, where nine million American jobs are dependent on it.

NAFTA took effect in 1994 and triggered a big increase in trade among the three countries.

Like most USA congressional Republicans, Mexican and Canadian officials are also wary of major changes that could hurt their exports to the US or even alter the three-way framework that underpins Nafta. Since his inauguration, President Trump has remained a critic of NAFTA, calling it the "worst trade deal ever" and a cause of significant USA manufacturing job losses. "President Trump is going to change that". The administration did send a draft to Congress in March "that included what the administration was looking for in almost 20 different areas".

Freeland, who was the first foreign politician to meet with Lighthizer in Washington this week, emphasized he gave Canada advance notice of his letter.

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