NAFTA renegotiations have begun between the three treaty members. Businesses with international operations are watching closely to see whether or not they will be affected, and if so positively or negatively.
President Trump has been a harsh critic of NAFTA and its effects on the American economy, while leaders in Canada and Mexico are happier with the current treaty.
The Wall Street Journal reports that leaders want to work through the renegotiation as quickly as possible in order to avoid it becoming an issue in elections next year.
“Our first goal is to keep the deal in place,” said Moisés Kalach, a textile businessman who leads a Mexican private-sector campaign to defend Nafta in the U.S. “Our second goal is, don’t destroy the value chains that have led to so much growth over the last two decades.”
The partners have set an ambitious timetable, saying they hope to wrap up talks by early next year, ahead of Mexican and U.S. elections that could complicate ratification of a new agreement. This week’s opening round of negotiations runs through Sunday; the second round kicks off in Mexico in early September.
Many businesses across the continent are hoping for a quick resolution.
“Just the mention of Nafta and renegotiating in the same sentence has had an impact,” said Daniel Winkowitsch, who oversees international sales for Tri-States Grain Conditioning, a Spirit Lake, Iowa, maker of temperature-monitoring devices for crop silos. Tri-States’ sales to Mexico, which grew as U.S. food companies expanded there, fell by nearly 75% over the first six months of 2017 versus last year because of questions over U.S. trade policy, Mr. Winkowitsch said.
In seeking to overhaul Nafta, the Trump administration wants to remake a pact that has done much to transform a region covering one-fourth of the world economy and, according to backers, made the hemisphere more competitive against rivals in Asia and Europe. Since the agreement took effect in 1994, trade and investment between the countries has soared.
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