New U.S. trade czar announces first steps of NAFTA 'modernization'

By Sandi Soendker, Land Line editor-in-chief | 5/24/2017

The Office of the United States Trade Representative responded to President Trump’s recent decision to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with a rapid request for public comments. The announcement was published Wednesday, May 24, in the Federal Register and included the notice of an upcoming hearing in June.

On May 18, new U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer informed Congress that the president intends to commence negotiations with Canada and Mexico with respect to NAFTA. Lighthizer was sworn in on May 15 and promised to carry out the wishes of the White House and reverse America’s “dangerous trade policies.”

To assist the Trade Policy Staff Committee in developing objectives for the NAFTA modernization, comments and oral testimony are invited. Written comments must be received by Monday, June 12.

A hearing will be held on Tuesday, June 27, at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C.

The Federal Register states: “The United States seeks to support higher-paying jobs in the United States and to grow the U.S. economy by improving U.S. opportunities under NAFTA. Our specific objectives for this negotiation will comply with the specific objectives set forth by Congress in section 102 of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015.”

According to the trade office’s announcement, the U.S. intends to commence negotiations with Canada and Mexico regarding modernization of NAFTA, which was negotiated more than 25 years ago, and while “our economy and U.S. businesses have changed considerably over that period, NAFTA has not.”

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