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article imageTrump sends letter to Congress on starting NAFTA negotiations

By Karen Graham     May 18, 2017 in Business
Washington - In a letter sent to Congressional leaders on Thursday, President Trump said his administration plans to start talks with Mexico and Canada over NAFTA "as soon as practicable." This means talks could start as early as August 16.
The president's two-page letter could be considered a formal notice of intent to move forward with his campaign pledge to renegotiate the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, according to the BBC.
ABC News printed part of the letter from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to Congressional leadership on Thursday: "NAFTA was negotiated 25 years ago, and while our economy and businesses have changed considerably over that period, NAFTA has not. Many chapters are outdated and do not reflect modern standards. I am pleased to notify the Congress that the President intends to initiate negotiations with Canada and Mexico regarding modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)."
Following procedure, the USTR will publish a notice in the Federal Register requesting public input on the direction, focus, and content of the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. To read the letter in full, go to the USTR site.
The BBC noted that the letter was short on details but raised a lot of questions, including digital trade and environmental practices. Democrats went even further, slamming the letter as being short on substance.
EcoWatch goes even further, pointing out that in Trump's "grand plan," he had campaigned on plans to "totally renegotiate" NAFTA on "day one" of his presidency, and here we are, well over 100 days in and nothing has been done.
If anything, the trade agreement between our three countries, signed under President George H.W. Bush in 1992 and implemented under President Bill Clinton in 1993, is in need of some severe updates, and that is one thing most everyone can agree on.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement saying the renegotiation of NAFTA was a "welcome first step, but the devil will be in the details." He went on to say, "So far, this administration’s trade policy has been characterized by a lot of talk and no action. I hope this will change."
Canada and Mexico are the second or third largest export markets behind China for 30 of our 50 states. On top of that, American manufacturing exports have climbed more than 250 percent, and exports of computers, furniture, paper and fabricated metals have tripled since 1993, according to the U.S. Trade Representative website.
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