U.S. President Donald Trump’s timetable to negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement threatens to slip into an election year for Mexico, which could feel the economic impact of the uncertainty especially if the agreement starts disintegrating.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Wednesday March 8 that the trade talks will probably begin in the latter part of 2017 and shouldn’t last much longer than a year. “I would like the results tomorrow, but that is not the way the world works,” Ross said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
Even at that speed — and some observers warn the negotiations could take years— the uncertainty of Nafta’s fate will likely hang over the July 2018 presidential election in Mexico, the main target of U.S. complaints.
Trump, who has said Nafta may be the worst trade pact in global history, aims to lock down more favorable terms for U.S. workers, blaming the deal for the loss of manufacturing jobs to lower-wage Mexico. He’s threatened to rip up the agreement if it can’t be revamped. Any Nafta partner can withdraw from the pact on six-months’ notice.
Observers say talks to update or overhaul Nafta, a deal that also includes Canada, are shaping up to be lengthier and more complex than early indications from Trump, who generally has to inform Congress at least 90 days before revising a trade deal. Trump said last month he’d like to speed up the discussions.
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