White House offers draft for NAFTA renegotiation
Vague document says administration seeks Canada, Mexico talks.
The Trump administration has submitted a vague set of guidelines to Congress for renegotiating the North American Free Agreement with Mexico and Canada, disappointing those who want a major overhaul of a decades-old trade deal that Trump described as “disaster” during the presidential campaign.
In an eight-page draft letter to Congress, acting U.S. Trade Rep. Stephen Vaughn wrote that the administration intends to start talking with Mexico and Canada about making changes to the pact, which took effect in 1994. Trump and other critics blame the agreement for wiping out U.S. manufacturing jobs because it allowed companies to move factories to Mexico to take advantage of lowwage labor.
The letter spells out few details and sticks with broad principles. But it appears to keep much of the existing agreement in place, including private tribunals that allow companies to challenge national laws on the grounds that they inhibit trade — a provision that critics say allows companies to get around environmental and labor laws.
The draft also contains some provisions that were part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-country Asia-Pacific trade agreement negotiated by the Obama administration but rejected by Trump for possibly hurting U.S. workers.
“We’ve got a long ways to go,” said Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. “President Trump made big promises to working people in Ohio, and I’m ready to work with him to deliver on those promises or hold him accountable if he doesn’t.”
NAFTA critic Lori Wallach, director of the left-leaning Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, called the letter “a punch in the face.”
If it represents the president’s plan for a revamped NAFTA, she said, “he will have broken his campaign promises to make NAFTA better for working Americans