Tuesday, 17 October, 2017

Mexico private sector eyes more NAFTA content in future products

Exclusive North American carmakers want rules of origin in NAFTA left untouched- Mexico lobby Eduardo Solis President of AMIA gestures during an interview with Reuters in Mexico City
Laurie Berry | 20 May, 2017, 00:45

His comments come a day after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer triggered a 90-day consultation period with Congress for the talks, which could mean negotiations to change the trilateral free trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico could begin on August 16. Tariffs on textiles and clothing, for instance, were phased out only gradually.

Newly installed US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthi- zer formally notified Congress of the intent to revamp the 23-year- old pact with Canada and Mexico, which accounts for about US$1 trillion (S$1.4 trillion) in annual trade. In 1992, US presidential candidate Ross Perot famously predicted "a giant sucking sound" as American jobs migrated south across the border. But so did America's trade deficit with Mexico.

Trade among NAFTA countries exploded.

In 1993, the year before NAFTA took effect, the United States had sold Mexico $41.6 billion in goods and bought $39.9 billion for a trade surplus of $1.7 billion.

Under Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which Congress approved in June 2015 and which covers trade agreements reached before July 1, 2018, the administration is required to give lawmakers 90-days' notice prior to entering talks on a trade deal that would require changes in US law needed to comply with the agreement.

Of course, $15-billion is much smaller.

Trump has invoked the trade gap to argue that naive American policymakers had been out-negotiated by their Mexican counterparts.

NAFTA's impact on the economy was more modest than partisans on either side of the debate had expected.

Make it three in a row: NM has highest unemployment rate again
That corresponded to the national unemployment rate's decline, to 4.4 percent in April from 4.5 percent in March. Professional and business services (+8,700 jobs, or 3.7%) was the third-fastest growing major industry category.

"Working closely with Congress and following the requirements of the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, we will continue to review elements of NAFTA and, where appropriate, update USA approaches to address the challenges faced by USA consumers, businesses, farmers, ranchers and workers in an increasingly global economy", Lighthizer wrote.

The Congressional Research Service has concluded that the impact of NAFTA on the USA economy "has been relatively small". The U.S. had a $62-billion trade deficit with Mexico a year ago.

The president has vowed to negotiate a better NAFTA " or to walk away from the agreement if he can't get one. "Obviously, dairy trade with Canada - where we continue to face 200%-300% tariffs and a slew of nontariff policies that distort dairy trade - is an entirely different story, and we need to address it as part of these talks. Without this trade agreement and the market access it provides, the United States would stand to lose almost $2 billion annually in dairy exports and tens of thousands of farming and manufacturing jobs in communities across the country", said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO.

The two-page letter offered few details about what changes the administration would seek in the negotiations.

But U.S. and other companies have built complicated supply chains that span the U.S. -Mexico border. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States.

Last month, White House aides spread word that Trump was ready to pull out of NAFTA.

Reworking the trade deal was a central promise of Trump's election campaign, during which he called NAFTA a "disaster" and blamed it for costing millions of U.S.jobs and hollowing out the manufacturing sector.

Lawrence Herman, senior fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute, told BNN Friday he has "great confidence" in Canada's foreign minister and her team to deal with the major challenges that may come from the NAFTA renegotiations. "That is our position".

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