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USTR's Lighthizer says White House not actively working to withdraw from NAFTA

18 October 2017

A joint statement from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland following a meeting highlighted progress and the desire to reach a deal. "As retailers, we strongly urge all parties to preserve the parts of NAFTA that work for American businesses and to avoid proposals that would damage the USA economy and hurt American families".

The U.S. proposal would also require that cars sold into the United States be 50 percent manufactured here in order to qualify for special NAFTA status.

If the deal falls apart there is no economic analysis as to what would happen but Lighthizer said "my guess is all three countries would do just fine". Right now, this right is reserved for Mexico and Canada.

USA negotiators opened a new front over the weekend with a proposal that Canada dismantle its system of protections for the dairy and poultry sectors, a move that Ottawa will reject, a source briefed on the matter said on Monday. Leaders are agreeing to add in protections on e-commerce trade between the countries.

"We have seen no indication that our partners are willing to accept any change that will result in a rebalacing and a reduction in these huge trade deficits", Lighthizer said. TPP is the trade pact that President Donald Trump rejected on his first day of office. The argument is that the USA has many of its own support programs for farmers.

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The U.S. proposed raising that threshold to 85%, according to the Canadian government source.

Talk of tense NAFTA negotiations triggered the Mexican peso value to hit a five-month low.

"Even if the national impact is limited, a NAFTA collapse would hit certain U.S. states and industries quite hard", Ashworth said in a note.

While Mexicans desperately want to keep NAFTA, which has helped transform Mexico into a manufacturing powerhouse and steadily expanded the middle class, they are also making preparations for the possibility of life without it.

All sides remain committed to talks for now: The next round will be in Mexico City starting November 17.

USTR's Lighthizer says White House not actively working to withdraw from NAFTA