Fischer, Flake lead congressional call for support of NAFTA

Trump takes step toward NAFTA renegotiation

U.S. president Donald Trump has repeatedly said the North American Trade Agreement, or Nafta, is the "worst trade deal" the U.S., or possibly any country, has ever signed and that it needs to be changed.

U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer sent a letter to congressional leaders Thursday, starting 90 days of consultations with lawmakers over how to revamp the pact.

Sending the letter begins a 90-day period for the administration to develop its negotiating positions before negotiations with Canada and Mexico can officially begin.

"The United States seeks to support higher-paying jobs in the United States and to grow the USA economy by improving U.S. opportunities under NAFTA, " Lighthizer wrote. "Our aim is that NAFTA be modernized to include new provisions to address intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, services, customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, labor, environment, and small and medium enterprises".

The Donald Trump administration took the first step toward renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, plunging into a battle that pits some Republicans and industry supporters of the pact against Democrats and some of the president's most ardent backers.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in a statement, blamed NAFTA for the downturn in USA manufacturing and promised that President Donald Trump would turn that around. To get a better deal for American workers, farmers and ranchers, and businesses.

During the presidential campaign, Trump called NAFTA "a disaster".

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In a statement, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said it's ready for NAFTA renegotiation, and intends to focus on areas of digital trade, e-commerce and worker mobility. The National Pork Producers Council urged the president to make sure that tariffs remain at zero for pork traded in North America. The state exported $23.5 billion in goods there in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. China was the largest market, importing $21.4 billion in American ag products previous year. US President Donald Trump had previously threatened to withdraw completely from the agreement.

There is no denying that foreign trade deals like NAFTA have hurt hardworking Americans and our manufacturing sector.

Freeland said modernizing global trade agreements is good practice, and Canada will take a "very thoughtful and very strategic approach" in NAFTA talks.

Reacting to the announcement, NCTO president and CEO Auggie Tantillo said, "The US textile industry welcomes President Trump's decision to renegotiate NAFTA..." American Farm Bureau "looks forward to working with the administration, Congress, other agricultural groups, and officials in Canada and Mexico to protect these important markets while also addressing issues that have limited the trade potential of USA farmers and ranchers".

However, Trump wants the US government to favor American suppliers and experts worry that could lead to retaliation by Mexico and Canada.

In the opinion of Merkley, "If Trump's wealthy and powerful friends dictate the terms of the renegotiation, NAFTA could easily become worse, not better, for working Americans".

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