The Trump administration on Thursday set the clock ticking towards a mid-August start of renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico to try to win better terms for American workers and manufacturers. The notification begins a 90-day period in which Trump trade officials must consult with Congress on the objectives of the trade talks.
U.S. President Donald Trump has called NAFTA a "disaster" and blamed it for the hollowing out of the U.S. manufacturing sector. "For years, politicians have called for the renegotiation of this agreement, but President Trump is the first to follow through with that promise", Lighthizer said in a statement on the USTR site.
"Obviously trade is an important, extremely important issue", said Tillerson.
Canada and Mexico supported TPP, and so they might be open to renegotiating Nafta in that way.
Late last month he signed an executive order that required the Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and the USTR, in consultation with several federal agencies, to "conduct comprehensive performance reviews" of all of the USA free trade agreements and "renegotiate or terminate" policies that the Administration believes are harmful to the US. NAFTA must be modernized to protect American workers against unfair imports, while opening more markets for exporting our own products. "I'm not playing", Trump said.
It is less detailed than a draft sent to lawmakers in March, which said the Trump administration would seek tax equality and the ability to reimpose tariffs if Mexican and Canadian imports pose a serious injury threat to USA industry.
Supporters of NAFTA argue that the agreement has helped the United States automotive industry remain competitive, and that European automakers take advantage of lower manufacturing costs in other countries through similar trade deals.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross last week said the White House had not yet decided whether to continue the pact as a three-nation deal, or split it into two separate bilateral agreements, something Canada and Mexico oppose.
USA trade policy has been a prominent issue in recent months, the letter acknowledges, and taking a fresh look at NAFTA will be an immediate priority.
"The trilateral agreement has been an huge benefit for all parties", Mexico's economic ministry said in a statement.
But it's not just US farm groups asking the Trump administration to protect agricultural trade during renegotiations.
NAFTA was negotiated between the U.S., Canada and Mexico 25 years ago, and needs to be updated, Lighthizer said in the letter.
However, Lighthizer may face pushback from businesses because the community "has argued that the pact has done a lot to sustain some US factories by creating more efficient continental supply chains that allowed USA firms to better compete globally". "Better for the people of Mexico, the USA and the people of Canada".
She said Ottawa also is reaching out to groups throughout the country to "determine how we can best align NAFTA to new realities - and integrate progressive, free and fair approaches to trade and investment", and to ensure "that the benefits of trade are enjoyed by all Canadians".