U.S. starts clock on NAFTA

Trade rep­re­sen­ta­tive says ‘free and fair’ trade will be the new Amer­i­can stan­dard

Kingston Whig-Standard - - BUSINESS -

WASH­ING­TON — The U.S. has of­fi­cially in­di­cated its de­sire to rene­go­ti­ate the 1993 North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment, trig­ger­ing a 90-day con­sul­ta­tion win­dow be­fore for­mal talks be­gin.

The clock was set tick­ing to­day in a let­ter from U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer.

U.S. Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross says he is putting Congress and trad­ing part­ners on no­tice that “free and fair” trade is the new stan­dard in the U.S.

“With this let­ter, we in­tend to no­tify not just Congress, but all our trad­ing part­ners, that free and fair trade is the new stan­dard for U.S. trade deals,” the state­ment read.

Ross says the U.S. man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try has been dec­i­mated by NAFTA, a deal the White House con­sid­ers deeply un­fair.

“Since the sign­ing of NAFTA, we have seen our man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try dec­i­mated, fac­to­ries shut­tered, and count­less work­ers left job­less.

“Pres­i­dent Trump is go­ing to change that,” he says.

“I look for­ward work­ing with the pres­i­dent, Am­bas­sador Lighthizer, and our coun­ter­parts from Mex­ico and Canada to find a so­lu­tion that is both fair and ben­e­fi­cial for all par­ties.”

For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land wel­comed what was a widely an­tic­i­pated devel­op­ment, promis­ing to con­sult with Cana­di­ans on the best way for­ward.

She re­it­er­ated the gov­ern­ment’s key mes­sage on NAFTA — that it is in fact a good deal for all par­ties, in­clud­ing the U.S., where nine mil­lion Amer­i­can jobs are de­pen­dent on it.

“NAFTA’s track record is one of eco­nomic growth and mid­dle-class job cre­ation, both here in Canada and through­out North Amer­ica,” Free­land said in a state­ment.

“We will con­tinue to con­sult closely with the prov­inces and ter­ri­to­ries, in­dus­try, unions, civil so­ci­ety, think-tanks, aca­demics, in­dige­nous peo­ples, women, youth and the gen­eral pub­lic.”

Dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Trump called NAFTA “a disas­ter.”

Last month, White House aides in­di­cated Trump was ready to pull out of the agree­ment, but within hours, the pres­i­dent re­versed course, say­ing he’d seek a bet­ter deal first.

Lighthizer says the U.S. is go­ing to give rene­go­ti­a­tion “a good strong shot,” say­ing the 23-yearold agree­ment needs to bet­ter pro­tect Amer­i­can fac­tory work­ers and to re­flect new tech­nolo­gies.


For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land, seen in the foyer of the House of Com­mons on Par­lia­ment Hill in Ottawa on March 6, says NAFTA is a good deal for all par­ties, af­ter the U.S. of­fi­cially in­di­cated its de­sire to rene­go­ti­ate the trade pact on Thurs­day.

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