by JOHN CARNEY
The Trump administration sent a clear message to Canada and Mexico on Wednesday: we are not kidding around about fundamentally transforming the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“The views of the president about NAFTA, which I completely share, are well known,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said. “I want to be clear that he is not interested in a mere tweeking of a few provisions and a couple of updated changes.”
Lighthizer’s remarks came at a press conference to kick off the first round of talks between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to renegotiate the 25-year-old trade deal. But while Canadian and Mexican representatives emphasized the benefits of the trade alliance in their opening statements, Lighthizer said that NAFTA had “fundamentally failed” many Americans.
“We need to ensure that the huge trade deficits do not continue and we have balance and reciprocity,” Lighthizer said. He went on to say that the agreement had cost America hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Highlighting just how far apart the NAFTA nations are on trade, Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland fought back against the U.S. emphasis on trade deficits. “Canada does not view trade surpluses or deficits as a primary measure of whether a trading relationship works,” she said in her opening statement. full story