CRS report on renegotiating the “worst trade deal”

Despite some contradictory statements — typical of the Trump Administration communications strategy — President Trump has set his sights on NAFTA. Of course, the Congressional Research Service provides a timely analysis. From NAFTA Renegotiation and Modernization (Oct. 12, 2017 R44981):

Congress will likely continue to be a major participant in shaping and potentially considering an updated NAFTA. Key issues for Congress in regard to the renegotiation or modernization include the constitutional authority of Congress over international trade, its role in revising or withdrawing from the agreement, the U.S. negotiating objectives, the impact on U.S. industries and the U.S. economy, the negotiating objectives of Canada and Mexico, and the impact on broader relations with Canada and Mexico. The outcome of these negotiations will have implications for the future direction of U.S. trade policy under President Trump.

NAFTA renegotiation may provide opportunities to address issues not covered in the original text. Technology and industrial production processes have changed significantly since it was negotiated. The widespread use of the Internet has affected economic activities and the use of e-commerce, for example. A modernization could incorporate elements of more recent U.S. FTAs, such as digital and services trade and enhanced IPR protection. Many U.S. manufacturers, services providers, and agricultural producers oppose efforts to eliminate NAFTA and ask that the Trump Administration strive to “do no harm” in the negotiations because they have much to lose if the United States pulls out of the agreement. Other groups contend that NAFTA should be rewritten to include stronger and more enforceable labor protections, provisions on currency manipulation, and stricter rules of origin.

— Joe

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