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Tough time for Mexico as talks for updating NAFTA start
Aug '17
Courtesy: Wikimedia
Courtesy: Wikimedia
The first round of talks on updating the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which came into effect on January 1, 1994, is scheduled in Washington from August 16 to 20. Mexican officials expect a tough situation as US President Donald Trump has blamed free trade agreements for the loss of millions of US manufacturing jobs.

NAFTA, signed by the United States, Canada and Mexico, allows goods to be shipped across borders without being taxed, as long as the products meet certain conditions. In one of his campaign speeches, US President Donald Trump had called NAFTA ‘the worst deal ever made’.

The Trump administration, however, will seek a much better agreement that reduces the US trade deficit and is fair for all Americans by improving market access in Canada and Mexico for US manufacturing, agriculture, and services, according to a July press release by the office of the US trade representative (USTR), a department dealing in trade negotiations.

The United States seeks to maintain existing duty-free access to NAFTA country markets for US textile and apparel products and wants to improve competitive opportunities for exports of such products while taking into account US import sensitivities, says an USTR document.

Key figures in the US negotiating team, that hopes to translate President Trump’s protectionist rhetoric into policy without affecting big business and trade partners, include 18th US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross and assistant US trade representative for the western hemisphere John Melle.

For Mexico, Kenneth Smith Ramos will be the chief technical negotiator and Salvador Behar Lavalle will be the chief adjunct negotiator. Economy minister Ildefonso Guajardo and foreign minister Luis Videgaray will also be part of the negotiating team.

The Canadian team is led by foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, ambassador to the United States David MacNaughton and former prime minister Brian Mulroney. Freeland recently released the country’s list of key demands, which include new chapters on labour standards, gender rights and indigenous rights, freer movement of professionals and reforms to the investor-state dispute settlement process. (DS)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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