Skip to navigationSkip to content

This is what the US, Canada, and Mexico want from renegotiating Nafta

President Clinton signs side deals to the North American Free Trade Agreement
Reuters/Win McNamee
Times change.
  • Ana Campoy
By Ana Campoy

Deputy editor, global finance and economics

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

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 tradeXXX
Reduce the trade deficitX
Increase access for business travelersXX
Abolish dispute-resolution mechanismX
Improve labor and environmental standardsXXX
Improve the mechanics of tradeXXX
Tighten rules of origin on exportsX
Prevent currency manipulationX
Promote small and mid-sized firmsXX
Include gender rightsXX

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.