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USA launches NAFTA renegotiation countdown

20 May 2017, 12:32 | Taylor George

"The trade agreements that we've had have been very beneficial", says Stephen Censky, CEO of the American Soybean Association.

Certain U.S. products now running the biggest deficits could become targets for Trump administration negotiators.

US wheat industry officials say renegotiating NAFTA could bring benefits, but they urge caution.

The U.S. can be expected to play hardball when the NAFTA negotiations begin, but its negotiators shouldn't expect Canada and Mexico to accept a deal that is counterproductive to their own economies. He said that NAFTA has been beneficial to U.S. agriculture, investment services and the energy sector, but has harmed the country's manufacturing.

The Obama administration attempted to address many of these deficiencies in the 2015 Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which included Canada and Mexico, but Trump pulled out of TPP in one of his first official acts as president.

Meanwhile, the letter he sent to lawmakers to kickstart consultations omitted numerous thorny points cited in an earlier draft, such as leveling the playing field on tax treatment and bulking up "Buy America" procurement provisions-goals that might meet stiff resistance from Canada and Mexico. "We are committed to working with the Canadian Government on this issue and will strongly represent the interests of the produce industry during any renegotiation process", said Lemaire. While the USA ships more oil and refined products to Mexico than it imports, American refiners are heavy consumers of Canadian oil. In 2016, the USA had exported $231 billion in goods to Mexico (a 455 percent increase) and imported $294.2 billion (up 637 percent).

"Since the signing of NAFTA, we have seen our manufacturing industry decimated, factories shuttered, and countless workers left jobless", Ross said. "The agreement also encouraged a more than tripling of regional trade and cross-border investment between the three countries also grew significantly".

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Many farmers are still hopeful about the Trump administration. Lighthizer told reporters that he hopes negotiations will be completed by the end of 2017, according to Reuters.

One such way might involve Canada.

"Canada and Mexico are top pork export markets".

"Canada has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very hard", Trump tweeted last month.

Some U.S. cattle producers would also like a renegotiated NAFTA to give them something the current version doesn't: The right to label their product "Made in America". The trade pact eliminated tariffs - taxes on imports - and other trade barriers among the United States, Canada and Mexico. However, the President is now moving towards renegotiating the deal as ending it would be a "shock to the system". But so did America's trade deficit with Mexico.

Still, Lighthizer made it clear the USA wants to see Mexican manufacturing capacity return to America, an approach sure to create friction with Mexico ahead of a general election next year.



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