Economy

NAFTA Negotiations Taking Place in Washington

NAFTA Negotiations Taking Place in Washington

Despite the handshake, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump were not ready to announce progress on revising or replacing NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. But there are growing doubts that it will survive through its 24th.

Trade experts predict the fourth round of the talks will probably stall as the USA aggressively pushes for controversial changes to a rule governing how cars are made. But what he wants - from requiring that more auto production be made-in-America to shifting more government contracts to US companies - will likely be unacceptable to America's two NAFTA partners, Mexico and Canada.

Chamber CEO Thomas Donohue has pledged to fight "like hell" to defend NAFTA if Mr. Trump tries to pull out. In a sign of how contentious things could get, the countries extended the negotiations for two extra days, through Tuesday.

"What is the administration going to do?" They're going to do well; we're going to do well, but maybe that won't be necessary. "We have to protect our workers, and in all fairness, the prime minister wants to protect Canada and his people also".

Blowing up the deal appears to be Trump's favored choice. On the campaign trail, he called NAFTA a job-killing disaster.

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"I don't think that it's going to be adequate for President Trump to have an agreement that he can't in some concrete way say is going to improve the lives of some of these masses of people who voted for him", Harper said.

"I think we end up coming up with a better agreement, a more modern agreement", he said.

Phil Levy, senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, pegs the chance of NAFTA's survival at less than 50 percent. Manufacturers have built complicated supply chains that cross NAFTA borders.

The government has learned that being friendly with Trump has a high domestic cost but produces few tangible benefits for Mexico, and so has moved to align itself more closely with Mexican popular opinion.

Trudeau will visit Mexico on Thursday to hold additional discussions on NAFTA.

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"Oh sure, absolutely. It's possible we won't be able to reach a deal with one or the other, but in the meantime we'll make a deal with one", Trump said when a reporter asked about individual trade deals with Canada and Mexico. But U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer declared at the outset that the U.S. wouldn't be satisfied with anything but a major overhaul.

NAFTA has "created American jobs, boosted economic growth, and strengthened local economies", the letter said, "but we know we can do even more to seize the benefits of trade with our North American neighbors". In addition, the administration is seeking eliminating dispute resolution processes. We realize that as bad as it has been for us, it has been great for Mexico and Canada.

Hosting the Canadian prime minister at the Oval Office, Trump said the USA had "a tough negotiation" over NAFTA ahead, which also includes Mexico, adding that it had to be fair to all countries. Negotiators face a list of daunting US demands, including a sharply increased USA content in autos manufactured under the deal. And that's why having an ongoing, constructive relationship between the President and the Prime Minister is really important.

"My optimism toward NAFTA, toward a renegotiation, isn't based on personality or reading political tea leaves", Trudeau said following his talks with Trump.

For that reason, many agricultural lobbies and lawmakers from farm states have urged the administration to "do no harm" in the NAFTA talks. Mexico accuses Trump of spoiling for a "protectionist war" with proposals aimed at balancing trade.

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NAFTA supporters are already rallying. He plans to visit Mexico City after his stop in Washington.