US Sets Out NAFTA Talks Priorities


Another submission shared with CBC News from the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters called for things like updated customs procedures, updates to the list of professionals permitted to move freely between NAFTA countries and an elimination of sub-national government procurement restrictions.

Since talk of a NAFTA renegotiation began, the apparel industry and others have been waiting to learn what the tenor of these talks would be, as the president has been everything from confrontational to conciliatory on the subject.

This means that future USA government procurements, such as those from federal departments or state governments, may be forced to buy and hire domestically, rather than seeking cheaper options from NAFTA neighbors.

Since Americans embraced Trump and his unabashedly protectionist, America-first agenda last November, the Trudeau government has spared no effort to build bridges to the new administration, and cultivate pro-trade allies in Congress, trade-reliant states and the USA business community.

A U.S. House subcommittee raised the long-standing trade irritant at its hearing on NAFTA negotiations Tuesday, suggesting Canadian measures to protect the industry will be a sticking point.

The federal government has also enlisted premiers and Canadian business leaders to bolster its sales pitch to Americans.

"We're not asking them to negotiate in public", he said in an interview.

But so far the sales job to ordinary Canadians has been more low-key, notwithstanding Trudeau's admonition that political leaders must do a better job of explaining the benefits of freer trade to anxious workers who feel they've been left behind by globalization.

Those goals were laid out in a 17-page document titled "NAFTA Renegotiation Objectives", which was submitted to the US Trade Representatives, the government agency responsible for evaluating US trade policy. The representative of Trade of the United States, Robert Lighthizer, announced Monday in Washington the objectives of his country on Nafta, agreement also signed by Mexico in 1994.

Recently, and indicating the hard environment facing Nafta negotiations, two agricultural trade issues have arisen - the U.S. has imposed a lumber tariff on imported Canadian lumber to punish Canada for harming United States dairy exports and has proposed limits on imports of Mexican sugar into the US.

When asked whether the USA has any leverage when it comes to pushing Canada to allow greater access to its markets for American dairy products, Ryan said it should be brought up in the NAFTA talks. "President Trump is reclaiming American prosperity and making our country great again". The administration aims to give American farmers and ranchers better market access while simultaneously providing relief for the manufacturing industry. One such provision is the Administration's call to remove the Chapter 19 dispute settlement mechanism, which now allows Mexico and Canada to dispute any duties imposed by the U.S.

The Trump administration released a list of its broad goals for the NAFTA talks on Monday, which include expanded access to USA agricultural exports. Both Mexico and Canada have agreed.

Overall, it's telling that Canadian and Mexican officials seem unfazed by the proposals, and that Democrats in Congress are attacking them for failing to say more precisely how they'll actually suppress trade.

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