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American Shipper

Trump kicks off NAFTA renegotiation process

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a call with reporters Thursday morning the administration hopes to renegotiate the deal, rather than scrap it altogether, the Washington Post reported.

   The Trump administration sent a letter to Congress on Thursday signaling its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a three-member deal with Canada and Mexico.
   The United States is allowed to start renegotiating the agreement 90 days from the notification to Congress. The U.S. trade representative is required by Congress to publish more detailed objectives at least 30 days prior to when the formal negotiations begin.
   Robert Lighthizer, who was sworn in Monday as the White House’s head of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, said in a call with reporters Thursday morning the administration hopes to renegotiate the deal, rather than scrap it altogether, the Washington Post reported.
   In a letter to congressional leaders, he said the administration wants NAFTA to be “modernized.”
   “NAFTA was negotiated 25 years ago, and while our economy and businesses have changed considerably over that period, NAFTA has not,” Lighthizer said.
   “Many chapters are outdated and do not reflect modern standards,” he said.“For example, digital trade was in its infancy when NAFTA was enacted. In addition, and consistent with the negotiating objectives in the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, our aim is that NAFTA be modernized to include new provisions to address intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, services, customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, labor, environment, and small and medium enterprises.”
   The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics said last month that NAFTA freight values in February had grown in four consecutive months, and five of the last seven months when compared with the prior-year period.
   Tom Donohue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the group welcomed the opportunity to modernize the trade agreement. “If we all do our jobs well, the result will be a stronger agreement that spurs economic growth and job creation, not just in the United States, but across North America,” he said.

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