What you need to know about NAFTA as it goes through a quarter-life crisis

8/18/2017 The Washington Post

Clinton signing NAFTA

NAFTA: The trade pact has stirred debate and controversy for more than two decades.

President Trump used the North American Free Trade Agreement as a lightning rod during his election campaign last year. At his rallies, Trump called the trade pact — which eliminated almost all tariffs and other trade barriers between the United States, Mexico and Canada — a disaster, the worst trade deal in U.S. history. NAFTA, he said, had spurred the decline in the U.S. manufacturing industry and encouraged a wave of illegal immigration from Mexico. As president, he came ever so close to terminating the agreement in April.

Yet while NAFTA looms large in political rhetoric, most Americans probably couldn’t tell you who wrote the pact and why, what’s at stake in its renegotiation and how profoundly it has already influenced their lives.

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The North American Free-Trade Agreement renegotiation begins via @TheEconomist

8/17/2017 The Economist 

THE North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a 23-year-old trade deal between America, Mexico and Canada, is being revamped. On August 16th, after months of threats, taunts and tweets, the first round of talks started in Washington. The negotiators face a daunting challenge, straddling domestic and foreign policy. They must please their political masters while grappling with devilishly detailed policy problems. If they fail, it will not be for lack of experience. The professionals are in the room.

This negotiation will be more tense than most. Participation in trade talks is usually by mutual consent. In this one, President Donald Trump is trying to hold his trade partners hostage, by threatening to withdraw from the original deal if a better one cannot be agreed on. That such an outcome would also hurt America does not make the exercise any easier.

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Canada and Mexico play defence on Nafta’s future

8/18/2017 Financial Times 

There are many areas — tax cuts, infrastructure spending, healthcare — in which Donald Trump’s grandiose plans have come to nothing. Thus far, the same is true of one of the US president’s foremost obsessions, trade — and specifically, attempting to redress the US deficit with individual countries by changing the rules of trade. Mr Trump has failed to carry out threats to put currency tariffs on China, or to punish US companies that have created jobs overseas. And having made a great song and dance about taking on Beijing, this week’s vaunted announcement about China’s intellectual property violations turned out to be an investigation that is likely to stretch well into next year.

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NAFTA talks must include discussion on fintech: Mexican negotiator

8/16/2017 Reuters 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) must include a discussion of new financial services, a Mexican negotiator said on Wednesday, singling out so-called fintech companies rapidly gaining ground in the region.

Created 23 years ago, NAFTA includes Canada, Mexico and the United States and is being renegotiated at the behest of U.S. President Donald Trump who made a campaign promise to get a better deal for U.S. workers.

Vanessa Rubio, an undersecretary at Mexico’s finance ministry who is taking part in the NAFTA negotiations that began in Washington on Wednesday, said discussions on financial services had found common ground between the three countries.

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Conflicting Views Mark Opening of Talks to Remake Nafta

8/16/2017 The Wall Street Journal 

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration launched the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement Wednesday by laying out a starkly different vision from that of its two continental trading partners of how the pact has worked and how radically it should be rewritten.

The wide gap between the administration’s opening rhetoric and the positions of Mexico and Canada suggests a difficult road ahead in redoing the 23-year-old accord, even discounting for the posturing at the opening of any negotiation.

“We believe that Nafta has fundamentally failed many Americans and needs major improvements,” U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer said at the opening of talks in Washington. “We need to assure that the huge trade deficits do not continue.”

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Anti-NAFTA Protests Hit Mexico As Government Fights To Keep Trade Deal

8/17/2017 Huffington Post 

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – While Mexican government negotiators fought tooth and nail to save the North American Free Trade Agreement during talks in Washington, thousands of Mexican farmers and workers took to the streets on Wednesday demanding the deal be scrapped.

Carrying banners that read “No to the FTA,” and decorated with images of the distinctive hairstyles of U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexican counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto, the protesters said the 1994 deal had devastated Mexican farms.

“We are against the treaty and the renegotiation because it has not benefited the country,” said university union spokesman Carlos Galindo, reflecting views widely held in the early years of the trade pact.

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US-Mexico border mayors call on federal leaders to modernize NAFTA

8/16/2017 Fox News 

SAN DIEGO — Mayors from border cities in San Diego County and Mexico urged federal leaders Wednesday to support the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement and continue an effort to improve the region’s economic prosperity.

Their news conference at the San Ysidro Port of Entry came the same day that negotiations on an updated version of NAFTA began in Washington, D.C.

“There has never been a more important time for San Diego to champion international trade,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said.

“Trade, open dialogue and collaboration create jobs and economic prosperity for Americans, Canadians and Mexicans alike,” Faulconer said. “That’s why we are calling on federal leaders to preserve and modernize NAFTA for the benefit of future generations.”

The mayors called for clear rules of trade that ensure all small- and medium-sized businesses have the opportunity to participate, and having tariffs and fees generated at all borders be dedicated to border infrastructure, modernization and staffing.

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