Trump administration starts countdown to NAFTA talks in mid-August

WASHINGTON The Trump administration on Thursday set a time ticking toward a mid-August start of renegotiations of a North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico to try to win improved terms for U.S. workers and manufacturers.

With a minute to U.S. lawmakers, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer pronounced he triggered a 90-day discussion duration with Congress, industries and a American open that would concede talks over one of a world’s biggest trade blocs to start by Aug. 16.

Renegotiation of NAFTA was a pivotal debate guarantee of U.S. President Donald Trump, who frequently called a 23-year-old trade agreement a “disaster” that has emptied U.S. factories and well-paid production jobs to Mexico.

Trump has affianced to use a NAFTA talks to cringe products trade deficits that stood during $63 billion with Mexico and $11 billion with Canada final year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Lighthizer told reporters NAFTA has been successful for U.S. agriculture, investment services and a appetite sector, though not for manufacturing. He combined that he hopes to finish negotiations by a finish of 2017.

“As a starting indicate for negotiations, we should build on what has worked in NAFTA and change and urge what has not,” Lighthizer pronounced in a discussion call with reporters. “If renegotiations outcome in a fairer understanding for American workers there is value in creation a transition to a modernized NAFTA as seamless as possible.”

In his minute to congressional leaders, Lighthizer pronounced NAFTA needs modernization for supplies on digital trade, egghead skill rights, labor and environmental standards, regulatory practices, manners for state-owned enterprises and food reserve standards.

The Obama administration attempted to residence many of these deficiencies in a 2015 Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, that enclosed Canada and Mexico, though Trump pulled out of TPP in one of his initial central acts as president.

Canada and Mexico both welcomed a U.S. pierce to launch a NAFTA revamp.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, vocalization during a news discussion with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington, pronounced a trade agreement indispensable updating after scarcely 25 years.

“The universe has changed, we’ve schooled a lot and we can make it better,” he said.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland pronounced Canada was “steadfastly committed to giveaway trade in a North American region,” observant that 9 million U.S. jobs count on trade and investment with Canada.

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce boss Thomas Donohue urged U.S. officials to “do no harm” to businesses that count on trade with Canada and Mexico and to pierce fast on a new trilateral deal.

As a administration took a initial grave step toward NAFTA renegotiations, a U.S. Commerce Department launched an examination on Thursday into Boeing Co’s (BA.N) anti-dumping claims opposite Canadian opposition Bombardier’s (BBDb.TO) new CSeries jetliners, sketch a hazard from Canada to examination a understanding to buy Boeing warrior jets.

Lighthizer’s minute (here%20Notification.pdf) is reduction minute than a breeze sent to lawmakers in March, that listed as objectives taxation equivalence and a ability to reimpose tariffs if Mexican and Canadian imports poise a critical damage hazard to U.S. industry.

Trump late in Apr had deliberate a full withdrawal from NAFTA, though was swayed by comparison officials in his administration to pursue negotiations instead. Lighthizer pronounced he did not consider a new hazard to repel from NAFTA would be necessary.

“As a boss has said, we are going to give renegotiation a good clever shot,” Lighthizer told reporters, adding that he believed Canada and Mexico would negotiate in good faith.

He pronounced he hoped to say a stream trilateral format of NAFTA, though remarkable that many of NAFTA’s problems are shared issues that need to be worked out with possibly Mexico or Canada.

“Our wish is that we can finish adult with a structure identical to what we have now. If that should infer to be impossible, afterwards we’ll pierce in a opposite direction.”

Asked if a NAFTA talks would find to solve trade disputes over imports of Canadian softwood lumber or Mexican sugar, Lighthizer pronounced he hoped those issues would be staid before a NAFTA talks start underneath apart negotiations being conducted by a U.S. Commerce Department.

A Canadian source tighten to a lumber negotiations pronounced it was doubtful an agreement could be reached by mid-August, however.

Lighthizer pronounced he will find open criticism on a NAFTA routine and intends to tell negotiating objectives on or about Jul 16.

(Reporting by David Lawder and Yeganeh Torbati in Washington and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; modifying by Paul Simao and Tom Brown)

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