Trump terminating NAFTA, negotiating with Canada

29 August, 2018, 00:32 | Author: Elaine Woods
  • Ildefonso Guajardo at a news conference in Mexico City

"This doesn't seem like a well-thought-out plan that leads anywhere sensible".

The US-Mexico agreement has tougher new protections for collective bargaining, and requires 40 percent of autos receiving duty-free treatment to come from factories where workers make at least US$16 an hour. He even added later in the day that he had "just signed a trade agreement with Mexico", which can not happen without the United States first nixing NAFTA.

The US-Mexico discussions focused on crafting new rules for the automotive industry - which Mr Trump has put at the heart of his drive to rework trade pact (which he has repeatedly called a "disaster") for American workers. The US trade representative's office officially described the agreement as "a preliminary agreement in update the 24-year-old NAFTA with modern provisions representing a 21st century".

"We had a NAFTA agreement that had gotten out of whack, that needed updating and modernizing", said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in a call with reporters.

"It is our wish, Mr. President, that now Canada will also be able to be incorporated in all this", he said on the phone. But when trade in services is included, with US exports of $58 billion and imports of $33 billion, it enjoyed an overall surplus of $8.4 billion with Canada. But incoming Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has long opposed opening the country's energy sector, and his negotiators had pressed to revise the energy parts of the agreement with the United States.

Trudeau spoke to Pena Nieto on Sunday and shared their commitment to reaching a successful conclusion of NAFTA "for all three parties", the prime minister's office said. "So if they had to compromise on energy, so be it".

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"In areas like digital trade, financial services, IP, all of the kinds of things you think of as a new economy, we are setting newest high-level standards that are not only better than NAFTA 1.0, but are also better than TPP or, I would suggest, any other agreement that's been negotiated", said the administration official, who called the new agreement "innovative". But they do have one thing going for them - Trump needs a win going into the USA midterms, especially after the legal mess in which he's become entangled in the last week. (The Administration said Monday that it believes that it has met its legal requirement). For another, a Congress that has been divided on trade issues would have to give its final approval. "For a prosperous, stable region, all three countries must be part of the deal". This gives Canadian negotiators a much better understanding of the USA bottom line. "The legal authority right now is for a trilateral deal - NAFTA". But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has insisted his government will only sign a deal that's good for Canada.

Under the new agreement, to avoid tariffs, vehicle companies will have to make 75 percent of their parts in the USA or Mexico instead of overseas. "It has a bad connotation, because the United States was hurt very bad by NAFTA", Trump said.

Freeland will travel to Washington on Tuesday to continue negotiations.

But Trump's claim was met with immediate pushback from the president of Mexico, who had been patched into the makeshift press conference by speakerphone.

Many analysts argue that the White House can only move ahead with a trilateral revamp of NAFTA - not a bilateral deal - because that's what it told Congress it would do over a year ago.

Under the current conditions, Ottawa essentially faces a take-it-or-leave-it offer, which is based on the US-Mexico trade pact.



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