Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Health Care | By Alberto Manning

NAFTA negotiations will be tough, says Trump

NAFTA negotiations will be tough, says Trump

Canada, the United States and Mexico have wrapped up discussions on the North American Free Trade Agreement's competition chapter, U.S. Trade Secretary Robert Lighthizer said Wednesday.

"There's been huge investments in Canada, the US and Mexico, that are long-term assets", he said.

The proposal came during a meeting at the White House between the two leaders and eight of their most senior advisers.

Trudeau met Trump in the Oval Office at the start of a new round of talks over NAFTA.

The CEO meeting ran in parallel to talks near Washington aimed at refreshing the 1994 agreement, with Mexico, Canada and businesses united in opposition to a number of radical U.S. proposals they say would damage the North American economy.

Now Trudeau travels to Mexico for meetings with President Enrique Pena Nieto.

"The new NAFTA Competition Chapter substantially updates the original NAFTA and goes beyond anything the United States has done in previous free trade agreements", the statement reads.

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Mexico joined in 1994 and has been a full member of NAFTA ever since.

Trump was less willing to commit to pulling the plug on NAFTA Wednesday.

However, Trump has also suggested for a new alternative if NAFTA renegotiation fail to create an entirely new deal. I said we'll renegotiate.

Farm groups and agricultural lobbies have urged the Trump administration to keep NAFTA, because if the US were to leave the agreement, the agricultural industry would be slapped with potentially steep tariffs from Canada and Mexico. But the sense of trepidation in the country has given way to anger and resolve. In an interview with Forbes published this week, he said NAFTA "will have to be terminated". "We have to be prepared for the different scenarios that could come out of this negotiation".

However, in his typically uncompromising approach to diplomacy, Trump told reporters later that "if we can't make a deal, it'll be terminated and that will be fine". Trudeau - whose country is the U.S.'s top export market - has led a sprawling lobbying effort to save Nafta. While U.S. President Donald Trump and Trudeau have been friendly in public, privately their countries are driving hard bargains on trade. Trump left open the possibility that the USA would seek to establish bilateral deals with Canada and Mexico if talks were to break down.

Shortly after Videgaray was sacked for his perceived closeness to Trump, Trump won the US election, and Videgaray - the only senior Mexican politician who had any relationship with the new USA leader - returned to cabinet with a promotion to foreign minister. He'll meet with the deal's other major player, President Enrique Pena Nieto, on Thursday in Mexico City. Since then, the PRI government has seen its approval levels plummet, mostly because Pena Nieto was perceived by Mexicans to be weak in his dealings with Trump. Consumers have benefited from lower costs. That is why Videgaray chose to speak more about Mexico's "sovereignty and dignity" at the Senate, than about co-operation and shared interests.

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. 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.

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