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Trump Has Started Renegotiating NAFTA

by Countable | 8.18.17

What’s the story?

NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement – is undergoing a modernization. The Clinton-era partnership between the U.S., Canada and Mexico has been debated since its inception and rollout, but it came under intense fire during Donald Trump’s campaign, when he called NAFTA "the worst trade deal in the history of the world."

During the past few days, negotiators from the U.S., Canada and Mexico have been meeting and discussing changes to the program, including rules of origins for goods produced in the region.

Why does it matter?

Jobs and the economy

Whether NAFTA helped or hurt workers remains a subject of debate. "Trump is right that the 1994 agreement with Mexico and Canada displaced U.S. jobs—some 850,000, most of which were in manufacturing," wrote Jeff Faux, the director of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. “But he is wrong in his claim that American workers lost out to Mexican workers because U.S. negotiators were outsmarted. The interests of workers were never a priority for either [country].”

Other economists, however, point to different factors. As the Washington Post noted, some economists have "found that while NAFTA lowered wage growth for some blue-collar workers, its effect on American wages was small." And still other economists “found no discernible impact on U.S. wages from trade with Mexico and Central America.” There’s little disagreement that cheaper labor and the elimination of tariffs drove automobile manufacturing south.

In mid-July, the Trump administration released a lengthy list of objectives for the NAFTA renegotiation, which aims to remedy these and other issues. They include:

  • Balancing flows of trade. Trump has said it’s unacceptable that Mexico exports nearly $63 billion more goods than it takes in.

  • Scrapping the dispute resolution mechanism. Trade disagreements are mediated through independent, binational panels. Trump has said these panels violate U.S. sovereignty.

  • Update 2.0. Intellectual property, e-commerce, apps and other technologies - that weren’t around in ‘94 - need to be addressed in the new document.

Teams of negotiators from the three countries are expected to meet at least seven times over the next six months.

What do you think?

Do you believe that NAFTA was good or bad for American businesses and American workers? What would you change about NAFTA? Hit the Take Action button and tell your reps what trade issues you’d like to see addressed. Then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: PeskyMonkey via iStockphoto)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(55)
  • Ftwchris
    08/18/2017
    ···

    I believe that countable should expand on the subject of nafta. But offer a genuine and robust set of pros and cons. Instead too many far left and far right actually believe the same conspiracy theories that had been told to them in the primaries. A robust and honest neutral informative would do this question justice. Instead of a tacit wink and enormously complex issue with the people who come to learn more. The list of both good and bad isn't easy, and certainly the characture of it helps the rich or on the other hand it out sources American Jobs is truly black and white. Robust and informative is what's needed so individuals can make a truly unique decision not a talking point from the right or left.

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  • Brian
    08/18/2017
    ···

    I don't know the details of NAFTA very well. What I do know is it seems we decided at some point to coddle corporations. And these trade agreements only helped the rich guys.

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  • Eric
    08/18/2017
    ···

    POTUS can't even staff and run the basics of his responsibilities or his office. Why are we letting him touch international trade deals again? How many times has he declared bankruptcy over the years? Perhaps take an unbiased look at updates, modernization is necessary sometimes. But now is not the time with DJT at the wheel, if you ask me.

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  • Denny
    08/18/2017
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    This is the kind of disturbing stuff that's really going on amongst all the DT chaos. DT cannot be allowed to renegotiate ANY THING that's vital to the country. He's made a mess already. The only thing he could lead is the way back to New York City!!

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  • KansasTamale
    08/19/2017
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    Trump is complaining about: 1. Balancing flows of trade. Trump has said it’s unacceptable that Mexico exports nearly $63 billion more goods than it takes in. So how does he expect to make more goods that Mexico will want to buy when we have no new manufacturers except for new entrepreneurial businesses which will be ruined by doing away with net- neutrality if Pai gets his way??? 2. Scrapping the dispute resolution mechanism. Trade disagreements are mediated through independent, binational panels. Trump has said these panels violate U.S. sovereignty. Which is ridiculous. The independent panels are necessary. They are a democratic way to mediate. If course that would be something Trump would be against. 3 Update 2.0. Intellectual property, e-commerce, apps and other technologies - that weren’t around in ‘94 - need to be addressed in the new document. Rather doubt that this is Trump's idea unless he is going to attach it to getting rid of NET NEUTRALITY, WHICH WILL BE A DISASTER FOR THE PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY.

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  • wipITsnapIT
    08/19/2017
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    Trump’s claims that NAFTA is the "worst trade deal" and has had an adverse effect on the US economy are untrue. The bottom line is, NAFTA is a net positive for America. Trade with Mexico under NAFTA has led to approximately 100,000 net manufacturing job losses; approximately 0.1 percent of the U.S. labor force. In the meantime, NAFT allows US companies to access new markets, reduce production costs, and create even more jobs; US unemployment was 4.7 in December 2016. Furthermore, the US trade deficit does not indicate that we are “losing out” in international trade.

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  • Azrael
    08/18/2017
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    Threatening to walk off our neighbors is no way to start negotiations We need our neighbor countries Work it out

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  • Dagmar
    08/19/2017
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    These types of agreements should always be renegotiated every so many years.

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  • Edder61
    08/19/2017
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    President Trump knows what's needed make that deal right. Let him do his job.

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  • Frankie
    08/20/2017
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    I do not want Trump making any of our decisions. The man knows nothing except how to manipulate media, lie, and defend his fragile ego. Trump step down now

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  • Wanda
    08/19/2017
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    When trump and his daughter bring their factories back to this country, only then should he be talking about foreign trade

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  • dirtybirdlover11
    08/19/2017
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    I don't know all the details as far as the current NAFTA agreement...I do think it is important for the U.S. to work with our neighbors. I do agree it needs updating due to technological advances in the past 20-30 yrs. I don't think it needs to be scrapped, but we do need to do some serious talking with our neighboring countries, and make a good deal that helps out all countries involved...We should all want a great deal that works (with certain "give and take" from all countries involved.) Possibly more (for the U.S. with more manufacturing incentive) help to the middle class in ALL COUNTRIES involved. Can (and should) be renegotiated...

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  • Deborah
    08/19/2017
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    NAFTA is all about trade agreements that help businesses, but there has never been any concern about the workers in those businesses. Big businesses are able to cut their bottom line by moving production to countries with lower wages and less workplace oversight. It would be interesting to know how much of Mexico's exports are coming from American companies with production centers in Mexico.

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  • Andy1
    08/18/2017
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    Hope everyone involved know that trump might not be at the negotiating table for much longer. He's always been a better armchair negoti-tweeter anyhow

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  • John
    08/19/2017
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    This needs to be done but with genuine debate and transparency. I doubt the Trump agenda is totally in the Nation's interest although some points may be necessary. The Clinton agenda is no longer appropriate but some points may need to be retained. Big point is it must be transparent and since it affects all Americans, not just Trump's base, must be bipartisan.

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  • Gail
    08/19/2017
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    What's he going to do? Import some Nazis free of tax?

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  • Pat
    08/19/2017
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    The trade agreements are complex and I don't know the content of NAFTA. I don't know all the affects of the trade agreements on the US. I do know they have promoted goodwill between countries and have increased living conditions for some of the poorer countries. They have also drastically decreased the costs of goods in the US. I would expect we will see an increase in the cost of goods if the trade agreements are changed.

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  • Laura
    08/19/2017
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    Nothing will happen. He can negotiate all he wants, but it is clearly evident that he knows nothing about business, trade, or international negotiations. When are you going to wake up GOP and impeach him?

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  • David
    08/19/2017
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    Awesome!

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  • Vanessa
    08/18/2017
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    It will be a bargaining chip with NAFTA partners once Pence takes over and starts the process of smoothing things over. The reality star has lost all credibility and this is his last ditch efforts to do anything before he's removed.

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