Opposition grows to trump’s hardline stance
President Donald Trump’s trade negotiators enter the latest round of NAFTA talks under growing pressure inside the U.S. to step back from a confrontational stance that’s left the country isolated at the negotiating table.
The fourth round of talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement began Wednesday in the Washington area. On the eve of talks, the top U.S. business group pledged to fight to preserve the pact, while a congressional committee said it was committed to successful talks and Mexico signaled it can live without the accord.
“There is life after NAFTA,” Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Tuesday in an interview with Radio Formula.
Mexico could leave NAFTA and have the strength to move on without any serious longterm structural damage to the economy, he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has steadfastly struck an optimistic tone as his foreign minister begins to dampen expectations for a quick deal.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer kicked off the latest round by announcing an agreement on a chapter on competition.
The countries have agreed to increased “procedural fairness in competition law enforcement,” his office said. It’s the second topic to be agreed on along with the chapter on small- and medium-sized businesses.
“Thus far, we have made good progress, and I look forward to several days of hard work,” Lighthizer said.
Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland met with the House Ways and Means Committee in Washington Wednesday, with Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, saying the committee was dedicated to “successful” negotiations.
“When North America wins, America wins and the American people win as well.”