Friday, 20 October, 2017

Vague trade plan after Trump's tough talk

Craig Ferguson | 31 March, 2017, 02:05

The Trump administration is seeking mainly limited changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing an administrative draft proposal circulated in Congress by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Trump has repeatedly said his economic plan is "Buy America, Hire American".

According to the CEPR, Mexican poverty has risen since the deal's implementation in 1994 as economic growth and real wages stagnated while almost five million family farmers were displaced, propelling Mexico's poor toward migration to the United States - crucial drivers of social instability and unrest.

The proposed changes to NAFTA by the Trump administration are not almost as severe as the heated election rhetoric Trump threatened.

Another objective in the administration's draft is "to establish rules that require government procurement to be conducted in a manner that is consistent with USA law and the administration's policy on domestic procurement preferences", the paper reported.

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The approaching negotiations come at a tense time between the US and Mexico, whose president, Enrique Pena Nieto, canceled a visit to Washington in January after Trump doubled down on promises to make the country pay for a border wall.

NAFTA critic Lori Wallach, director of the left-leaning Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, called the letter "a punch in the face". "It's very diplomatic", he said.

Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd, whose district runs more than 800 miles along the border with Mexico, welcomed administration calls for NAFTA to be updated to reflect the rise of e-commerce in the years since the pact was negotiated. He's blamed Mexico and China for stealing U.S.jobs. It notes that Canada and Mexico are "among the largest export markets for [U.S.] manufacturing".

There is Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor whom Trump has hailed as a "killer" negotiator. It says, among other things, that the White House would look to strengthen cooperation under the World Trade Organization, an worldwide group that the Trump administration had suggested in the past it might not abide by.

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