Thursday, 20 September, 2018

NAFTA negotiators promise results at next round of talks

NAFTA Round Two Concludes in Mexico City NAFTA negotiators promise results at next round of talks
Ellis Copeland | 08 September, 2017, 00:58

“They recognize NAFTA has been very beneficial for US agriculture, and in many cases its duty-free access already exists nearly entirely.”. Trump used NAFTA as a punching bag in his election campaign and has repeatedly threatened to pull out of it, even after modernization talks began on August 16. The 23-year-old trade pact is being renegotiated at the insistence of Washington, which seeks to reduce its more than $60 billion annual trade deficit with Mexico. The just-concluded five-day session in Mexico City followed an initial round last month in Washington.

Lighthizer, a former Reagan-era deputy USTR and longtime trade lawyer for US steelmakers, said Trump would likely judge a NAFTA update on whether it improves conditions for American workers, farmers and ranchers.

Customs and worldwide trade law firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, notes: "Press sources report that Mexican and Canadian officials increasingly see [Trump's] threat as a negotiating tactic, due among other things to questions about whether Trump has the legal authority and political support to end the agreement". "I am hopeful we can arrive at an agreement that helps American workers, farmers and ranchers, while also raising the living standards of workers in Mexico and Canada".

“The commitment on the part of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and I believe of other countries as well is to ‘do no harm, which is the catch phrase that you hear often applied to agriculture, ” said Powers.

Initial talks have focused on issues on which there is broad agreement, said Ildefonso Guajardo, Mexico's economic secretary and the country's chief NAFTA negotiator. It is also among the nation's largest trade missions to date, the chamber said.

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Mexico now sources the vast majority of the roughly 13 million tonnes of annual yellow corn imports from the United States, which he said was unlikely to change quickly.

A third round of talks is scheduled for Ottawa from September 23 to September 27.

Despite the uncertainties introduced by the new USA administration and its push to amend the agreement, "Mexico has maintained great dynamism in its exports".

The talks here proceeded as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was on a trip to China seeking improved trade ties with Asia.

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