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Trump plans to redo NAFTA ‘disaster’

First Published      Last Updated May 18 2017 10:11 pm


Two-page letter offers few details on changes.

Washington • Making good on a campaign promise, the Trump administration formally told Congress on Thursday that it intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.

U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer sent a letter to congressional leaders Thursday, starting 90 days of consultations with lawmakers over how to revamp the pact. Talks with Canada and Mexico can begin after that.

The two-page letter offered few details about what changes the administration would seek in the 23-year-old pact that President Donald Trump has called "a disaster." Lighthizer told reporters that any new deal should do a better job of protecting U.S. factory workers and should be updated to reflect new technologies.




"We are going to give renegotiation a good strong shot," Lighthizer said. He refused to say whether leaving NAFTA remained an option.

During the 1992 presidential campaign, independent candidate Ross Perot famously predicted a "giant sucking sound" as NAFTA pulled U.S. factory jobs into Mexico. NAFTA took effect in 1994 and triggered a big increase in trade among the three countries. American farmers have mostly benefited from the reduction in trade barriers. But the pact did encourage American manufacturers to relocate some operations to Mexico to take advantage of cheaper labor there.

"Since the signing of NAFTA, we have seen our manufacturing industry decimated, factories shuttered and countless workers left jobless," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

Thursday's letter had fewer specifics. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi complained that "the president's vague NAFTA letter is a stark contrast with the aggressive promises he made to hard-working families during the campaign."

 

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