More than 20 years ago, then-US president Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Canada, and Mexico into law. Today, prodded by president Donald Trump, negotiators from the three countries will start talks to revamp it.
As a presidential candidate, Trump bashed the deal, which went into effect in 1994, as a symbol of all that’s wrong with globalization. He’s since toned down his Nafta criticism and his administration’s stated goals for the renegotiation were milder than expected. But as with all things Trump, how aggressively the administration will promote his “America First” agenda is hard to predict.
The three countries favor a quick turnaround to avoid the talks affecting presidential elections in Mexico next summer and mid-terms in the US a few months later. But Canada’s and Mexico’s (link in Spanish) own positions on Nafta suggest they will push back hard on some of the items on the US’s agenda. It could take a lot longer than anticipated.
Here are some of each country’s official goals:
|Maintain free trade||X||X||X|
|Reduce the trade deficit||X|
|Increase access for business travelers||X||X|
|Abolish dispute-resolution mechanism||X|
|Improve labor and environmental standards||X||X||X|
|Improve the mechanics of trade||X||X||X|
|Tighten rules of origin on exports||X|
|Prevent currency manipulation||X|
|Promote small and mid-sized firms||X||X|
|Include gender rights||X||X|