Trump just might be giving us the opportunity to make NAFTA even stronger

6/7/2017 Dallas News

By Alan Bersin, Mexico Institute Global Fellow and Former Commissioner, U.S. CBP

Donald Trump’s campaign, when it turned to issues, focused on migration, borders and trade. Characteristic of populist crusades, it zeroed in on foreigners to explain this country’s purported loss of greatness. Mexico and Mexicans were targeted with particular venom: NAFTA was the worst trade deal ever, Mexican migrants were rapists and thugs, and only a big wall could ensure our border security. In office, the administration’s initial policy pronouncements tracked the rhetoric: NAFTA will be scrapped, undocumented migrants will be deported and the wall will be built.

Two months into governing, the new administration’s messages remain mixed, but talk has turned from abject negation of the North American Free Trade Agreement to likely renegotiation with a decidedly positive focus on competitiveness. The realities of the complex, symbiotic U.S.-Mexican relationship have begun to assert themselves: We don’t trade with one another so much as make things together, and both countries protect themselves through shared perimeter security systems that won’t work absent trust and confidence between officials on both sides of the border.

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For a better NAFTA, shore up Mexican workers’ rights

5/1/2017 The Washington Post

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Flickr/Dylan Otto Krider

Trade debates have been haunted by the ghosts of Smoot-Hawley and 19th-century economic theory for decades, but it is jaw-dropping that the April 29 editorial “From tear-up to tune-up” would fail to mention the issue of labor standards.

There can be no denying that U.S. jobs have moved to Mexico because of the huge differential in wages. Mexican autoworkers’ compensation is 19 percent that of their unionized U.S. counterparts, and auto parts workers earn even less — $2.40 an hour. This is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. The Mexican labor system is designed to prevent workers from organizing to improve their wages and conditions. There is no link in Mexico between productivity and wages: Productivity increased 80 percent, while real compensation — wages and benefits — slid 20 percent between 1994 and 2011.

The core change that must occur in North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation is that Mexico must change its labor laws and practices to come into compliance with international standards, and these provisions must be fully enforced in the agreement.

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Mexico calls on Trump to reuse TPP deals to reanimate Nafta

4/30/2017 Financial Times

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Flickr/OECD Development Centre

Mexico is urging Donald Trump to reuse agreements reached under the aborted Trans-Pacific Partnership to create a manufacturing powerhouse between the US, Mexico and Canada to compete with low-cost producers in China.

Ildefonso Guajardo, Mexico’s economy minister, said in an interview with the Financial Times that elements of TPP could be used to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement between the three countries. His comments came as the US president agreed not to scrap Nafta, after repeated threats to tear it up.

But despite his U-turn last week saying he would bring Nafta “up to date through renegotiation”, Mr Trump backtracked again on Sunday when he told CBS news he could still terminate the pact if the renegotiations failed to provide “a fair deal for all”.

Mr Guajardo, lead trade negotiator, said using sections of TPP would offer the US president a quick and relatively easy victory on trade.

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Pena Nieto, Trudeau to remain in close contact over NAFTA: Mexico

4/27/2017 Reuters

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Flickr/Presidencia de la República Mexicana

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke on Thursday about the NAFTA trade deal and agreed there was an opportunity to update the accord to the mutual benefit of all signatories, the Mexican government said.

In a statement, Pena Nieto’s office said he and Trudeau had spoken on Thursday afternoon and were ready to begin the process of dialogue between Mexico, Canada and the United States, the members of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“Finally, they agreed to remain in close contact to ensure the process of (NAFTA) modernization is successful for the benefit of both nations,” Pena Nieto’s office said.

U.S. President Donald Trump rattled Mexico and Canada on Wednesday when his administration said he had been considering an executive order to withdraw from NAFTA. On Thursday, Trump said that he aimed to renegotiate the deal with the two.

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White House considering order to withdraw from NAFTA

4/26/2017 CNN


The White House is considering withdrawing from NAFTA in the coming days, though President Donald Trump has not yet decided how to proceed, two senior administration officials confirmed to CNN Wednesday.

The White House is currently mulling an executive order declaring the US’ intent to withdraw from NAFTA, a move that could trigger a renegotiation of the trade pact rather than outright withdrawal, the officials said.

But Trump could also simply launch the US into renegotiations of the trade pact with Canada and Mexico rather than making a bold move declaring the US’ intent to withdraw.

Politico first reported Wednesday that the White House is mulling an executive order on withdrawing the US from NAFTA.

One senior administration official stressed that this is something Trump has “always been considering” and while the White House is currently considering an executive order, the official stressed a lot could change in the coming days. Trump has not made any decisions and a range of options are still on the table, the official said.

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5 Ways Trump Could Improve NAFTA

1/23/2017 Forbes, Mexico Institute Blog

trump-inaugurationBy Christopher Wilson, Deputy Director, Mexico Institute

President Trump’s road to victory was built on a promise to fight on behalf of the American worker to keep manufacturing jobs in the United States. Rightly or wrongly, Donald Trump and many other Americans put much of the blame for the immense challenges being faced by the working class on NAFTA and other free trade agreements.

The newly updated White House website states, “President Trump is committed to renegotiating NAFTA.” However, “if our partners refuse a renegotiation that gives American workers a fair deal, then the President will give notice of the United States’ intent to withdraw from NAFTA.” Media reports suggest an executive order for a NAFTA renegotiation may be imminent.

An outright withdrawal from NAFTA would be incredibly costly. A Wilson Center study recently found that nearly five million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico, and a good number of them would be put at risk were the agreement to be scrapped. At this point, U.S. and Mexican companies have invested many billions of dollars in each other’s economies to build up a globally competitive regional manufacturing platform upon which cars and other products are jointly manufactured with parts and materials from suppliers dispersed across the continent.

Renegotiation, on the other hand, could be beneficial if the political minefield along the way to its completion can be successfully navigated. Realistically, there are no changes to NAFTA that can stop the slow decline of manufacturing employment in the United States, which is caused much more by automation and technological advance than anything else. But, as an agreement negotiated a quarter-century ago, there is plenty of space for the Trump administration to propose an update to NAFTA that would favor U.S. workers and competitiveness.

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Trump to Announce Plans for Renegotiation of NAFTA: Five Ways to Improve the Agreement

1/23/2017 Mexico Institute Forbes Blog

trump-inaugurationPresident Trump’s road to victory was built on a promise to fight on behalf of the American worker to keep manufacturing jobs in the United States. Rightly or wrongly, Donald Trump and many other Americans put much of the blame for the immense challenges being faced by the working class on NAFTA and other free trade agreements.

The newly updated White House website states, “President Trump is committed to renegotiating NAFTA.” However, “if our partners refuse a renegotiation that gives American workers a fair deal, then the President will give notice of the United States’ intent to withdraw from NAFTA.” Media reports suggest an executive order for a NAFTA renegotiation may be imminent.

An outright withdrawal from NAFTA would be incredibly costly. A Wilson Center study recently found that nearly five million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico, and a good number of them would be put at risk were the agreement to be scrapped. At this point, U.S. and Mexican companies have invested many billions of dollars in each other’s economies to build up a globally competitive regional manufacturing platform upon which cars and other products are jointly manufactured with parts and materials from suppliers dispersed across the continent.

Read more…

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