Trump to seek tariff ‘snap-back’ provision in NAFTA revamp

3/30/2017 Reuters

NAFTAThe Trump administration will seek changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement allowing it to reimpose tariffs if a flood of imports from Canada and Mexico causes “a threat of serious injury” to U.S. industry, according a draft document sent to Congress.

The administration also will seek to eliminate a requirement in the 23-year-old trade deal that anti-dumping and anti-subsidy disputes be settled via a special dispute panel. Some U.S. industries including lumber have complained that the mechanism is ineffective in stopping unfair subsidies.

The objectives are contained in a draft notification letter circulated by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to members of Congress for review. The letter, seen by Reuters, is part of the legal process required to launch negotiations to revamp the NAFTA.

President Donald Trump called NAFTA a “disaster” throughout the 2016 election campaign, but the plan outlined in the letter would keep many of its provisions in place, including a settlement system for other disputes that circumvents local courts.

Read more…

Cornyn, Cardin Lead Bipartisan Group to Affirm Strategic U.S.-Mexico Partnership in Resolution

3/29/2017 United States Senate 

” WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) today introduced a resolution to reaffirm the strategic partnership between the United States and Mexico and recognize the bilateral cooperation necessary to advance both countries’ shared interests in national security, defense, and trade.  Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) also cosponsored the resolution. 

“The United States and Mexico have long benefited from a symbiotic relationship in the areas of trade, defense, and national security,” said Sen. Cornyn. “It is vitally important, particularly for Texans, to ensure this strategic partnership is maintained by continuing to support economic and diplomatic cooperation between our two countries.”

“This bipartisan resolution is an important reaffirmation of the enduring partnership and friendship between the United States and Mexico. From diplomacy to security, immigration to trade, the United States is safer and stronger when we work together with Mexico,” said Sen. Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.“With over one million Americans living in Mexico and tens of millions of Mexican-Americans here in the U.S., our people share common values and unbreakable bonds that transcend politics.”

“Over the past few months, the United States’ relationship with Mexico has been in the spotlight for all of the wrong reasons.  But the fact is many of the challenges facing the United States cannot be effectively confronted, let alone solved, in a responsible way without cooperating and strategically planning with Mexico,”said Sen. Menendez,  Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere.  “As the U.S. and Mexico continue to be inextricably linked by geography, people, and shared economic and security interests, this bipartisan resolution reaffirms the importance that our two countries work towards strengthening our relationship, breaking down barriers and forging new areas of cooperation and growth.”

“The United States and Mexico share more than just a border—we have a deep and unbreakable bond rooted in mutual respect and a strong economic and political partnership,” said Sen. Durbin.“We must protect and strengthen this relationship to ensure that Mexico remains one of our closest allies and trading partners.”

“U.S. security and economic prosperity hinges on a strong relationship with our neighbor Mexico,” said Sen. McCain. “In my state of Arizona, over 100,000 jobs are directly dependent on trade with Mexico, and the free flow of goods and services across the border has contributed to unparalleled economic growth and development. We must do more to revitalize the spirit of partnership between our two countries and continue to strengthen our bilateral cooperation.”

Background:

The United States and Mexico have long relied on a strong, strategic partnership in the areas of defense, national security, and trade.  The resolution outlines our shared cultural and economic ties and highlights areas of cooperation including votes at the United Nations; defense, security, and law enforcement partnerships such as the Merida Initiative; and efforts by the Nieto administration to reduce domestic production of illegal drugs and extradite criminals to the United States.  The resolution reaffirms this relationship by supporting continued diplomatic, economic, and security cooperation between the two countries and fostering a relationship that is based on mutual respect and the promotion of shared democratic values and principles.”

Read text of the resolution 

Apparently, Mexico may have to host the wall, too

3/29/2017 The Washington Post

Us-mexico-borderThe Sabal Palm Sanctuary is a nature reserve southeast of Brownsville, Tex. It’s home to thousands of birds, which you can watch eat on a streaming webcam. The sanctuary was created on part of a plantation that once ran along the Rio Grande; the plantation’s mansion can still be visited by tourists.

Oh, and, according to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, it now belongs to Mexico.

Well, sort of.

While addressing the legislative conference of the Public Lands Council in Washington on Tuesday, the subject of President Trump’s proposed border wall came up.

“The border is complicated, as far as building a physical wall,” Zinke said, according to E&E News. “The Rio Grande, what side of the river are you going to put the wall? We’re not going to put it on our side and cede the river to Mexico. And we’re probably not going to put it in the middle of the river.”

Read more…

Mexico may be using another cartel kingpin to gain leverage with Trump

3/28/2017 Business Insider

trumpmexico_083116getty_0The sudden extradition of Mexican cartel chief Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman hours before President Donald Trump took office raised questions about whether the move was a final gesture to Obama or an early goodwill sign to Trump.

Now another kingpin appears to be following Guzman’s path to a US court, suggesting Mexico is playing politics with the extradition process.

Miguel Angel Treviño, aka Z-40, a member and eventual leader of the powerful and vicious Los Zetas cartel, was transferred from Altiplano maximum-security prison west of Mexico City on Monday to the Cefereso No. 9 prison south of Ciudad Juarez.

Read more…

Trump’s funding request for U.S. border wall hits snag among some Republicans

3/28/2017 Reuters

wallPresident Donald Trump’s call for $1.5 billion this year to help build a wall along the border with Mexico could be in jeopardy as fellow Republicans in Congress weigh delaying a decision on the request.

Republican Senator Roy Blunt, a member of his party’s leadership, told reporters on Tuesday that money for the wall likely would not be coupled with a spending bill that must pass by April 28 to avoid shutting down federal agencies whose funding expires then.

Blunt said the must-do funding “comes together better” without Trump’s additional request for the border wall and military programs and could be considered “at a later time.”

Democrats are threatening to block the bill funding federal agencies from April 29 to Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year, if money for the border wall is included.

They object to one of Trump’s premier 2016 campaign promises, saying it is poorly planned and that there are other border security measures already constructed or under consideration.

Read more…

Grupo Mexico to buy Florida East Coast Railway $2.1 billion

3/28/2017 Reuters

grupo mexicoMexican miner Grupo Mexico said on Tuesday it had agreed to acquire Florida East Coast Railway for $2.1 billion, a rare acquisition that comes as U.S. President Donald Trump has been trying to renegotiate trade ties between the two countries.

Trump has threatened to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, a treaty that has been a boon to the region’s rail freight operators, which seamlessly shuttle car parts, grains and beer back and forth across the region’s borders.

Grupo Mexico’s transport unit financed the purchase from Fortress Investment Group with $1.75 billion in debt and $350 million in capital, the company said in a statement to the Mexican stock exchange.

The announcement confirmed a Reuters report on Monday about the pending acquisition and the company’s ambition to manage foreign assets after dominating the railway freight sector in Mexico for years.

Read more…

Mexican, U.S. negotiators to resume sugar trade talks in Washington

3/28/2017 Reuters

Sugar
Flickr/Coralie Ferreira

Mexican and U.S. trade representatives will resume talks in Washington aimed at resolving a sugar dispute between the two neighbors, Mexico’s top trade official said on Tuesday.

The talks focus on the late 2014 sugar accord regulating Mexican access to the U.S. market and come as ties between the two countries have frayed under U.S. President Donald Trump, who has pledged to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and his counterpart, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, recently announced that sugar talks would resume, but did not set a date.

“The dialogue will continue this week among technical teams from (Mexico’s) economy ministry and Wilber Ross’ team,” Guajardo told reporters.

Quotas on Mexican sugar exports are set under the 2014 agreement that has become a source of tension between the two countries. The deal ended a year-long investigation by the U.S. government after U.S. farmers and sugar companies said Mexican millers were flooding the market with cheap, subsidized sugar.

Read more…