by Countable | 12.14.17
Uncertainty over the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) looms as trade negotiators from the Trump administration continue discussions with their Canadian and Mexican counterparts.
As of late November there had been five rounds of negotiations, covering all aspects of trade between the three countries. The goal of U.S. trade representatives has been to reduce the "trade deficits", or the dollar value difference of imports versus exports, between the U.S. and the two other countries.
After the fourth round of talks there was an explosive press conference at which, according to CNN, "Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo slammed the Trump administration's proposals in front of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. He in turn lobbed criticism back at them while they all stood together in front of cameras."
As a result, the fifth round of negotiations in November were held with staff of the three trade representatives, and not the representatives themselves.
The CBC reported on Monday that meetings were held this week in Montreal between the official negotiation rounds. They expect President Trump to be forced to make a final decision by March 2018 whether to take steps to withdraw from the agreement or commit to final negotiations.
Central issues of contention at this point are auto and auto parts manufacturing, agriculture and dispute-resolution mechanisms. The U.S. has proposed instituting a five-year sunset on the agreement, forcing the three countries to renegotiate and recommit every five years or the agreement would end.
Canadian and Mexican representatives have called that a non-starter, but have proposed a compromise of requiring a full assessment of costs and benefits every five years, arguing that a sunset clause would discourage investment.
Do you support NAFTA or not? Do you think the U.S. should renegotiate to try and reach terms more favorable to the U.S.? Should we leave NAFTA completely?
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— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: U.S. Dept of State via Flickr / Creative Commons)
Written by Countable