USA launches NAFTA renegotiation countdown

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President Donald Trump has officially alerted Congress that he will begin NAFTA renegotiation talks.

Lightizer says the goal of bringing the three countries to the table will be to enable the U.S.to use the deal to support higher paying jobs and to grow the economy. The treaty needs to be updated to address intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, and environmental issues. During his election campaign, President Trump pledged to renegotiate the deal, calling it a "job killer".

Lighthize pledges to work closely with Congress throughout the negotiations and commits to providing "timely and substantive results for US consumers, businesses, farmers, ranchers and workers".

Canada Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said many United States jobs depend on NAFTA which has created growth throughout the region.

Late last month, Trump said that he had planned to withdraw from NAFTA, rather than try to renegotiate it.

"We understand that this is a 25-year-old agreement", he said at a State Department summit on drug cartels with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday. "But we're going to give renegotiation a good, strong shot".

She reiterated the government's key message on NAFTA - that it is in fact a good deal for all parties, including the USA, where nine million American jobs are dependent on it. Although they build cars in Mexico, U.S. companies also do a big business ($30 billion worth in 2015) shipping auto parts to Mexico. Open trade is critical to ensuring North American consumers have access to fresh fruit and vegetables year-round, as well as ensuring growth and economic sustainability.

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During the presidential campaign, Trump called NAFTA "a disaster".

"Canada has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very hard", Trump tweeted last month.

But his new trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, struck a more dovish tone Thursday in serving notice to Congress of the administration's intention to renegotiate the accord.

In February, the Congressional Research Service released a report on NAFTA, which found the trade agreement "did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics or the large economic gains predicted by supporters". Starts 90-day clock. Negotiations start August 16. "Congress looks forward to working hand-in-hand with the Trump administration to achieve the best deal possible for American workers and our economy", Ryan said in a statement.

"While NAFTA has been an overall positive for American agriculture, any trade deal can always be improved", said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in response to the announcement. A year ago the US sold $2.6 billion worth of corn to Mexico.

Meanwhile, the letter he sent to lawmakers to kickstart consultations omitted numerous thorny points cited in an earlier draft, such as leveling the playing field on tax treatment and bulking up "Buy America" procurement provisions-goals that might meet stiff resistance from Canada and Mexico.

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