NAFTA talks must include discussion on fintech: Mexican negotiator

As Nafta talks begin, Donald Trump's 'America first' agenda looms large

Fullerton says it's crucial that the USA remain a part of NAFTA - not a sure thing, since the president continues to threaten to leave the agreement if he isn't satisfied with renegotiation efforts.

Instead, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer insisted that NAFTA must undergo wholesale revision.

"I want to be clear that he is not interested in a mere tweaking of a few provisions and a couple of updated chapters", he said during opening remarks for ministerial discussions.

The first-round of talks between Mexico, Canada and the U.S. began yesterday (16 August), with Lighthizer saying NAFTA needs an update since the 23-year old agreement and economies "are very different than they were in the 1990s".

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland characterized the deal as positive, emphasizing economic benefits to both her country and the USA, and Mexican Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo likewise called the agreement a "strong success for all parties". In doing so, he opted to give a 10-year count of the deficit - that figure is at $365 billion.

But the NATA, I think there was serious consideration to indeed tearing it up, giving notice and it would have taken six months for the United States to pull out but, particularly the farm community in the United States, protested, came back and said look this is working for us.

Trump made criticizing NAFTA a focal point for his campaign for the presidency, describing it as "the worst deal ever made in the history of the world". Despite that tough talk, he said earlier this year he had decided that instead of "terminating" NAFTA, he would seek to renegotiate it.

Given recent criticism over his handling of North Korea, Venezuela and the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump is entering the talks in need of something he can call a victory. "What we are not going to get a chance to hear is what is said around the table".

However, he said Washington can not ignore the lost manufacturing jobs that resulted from "incentives, intended or not, in this agreement".

Although US trade with Mexico shifted from a US$1.7 billion surplus in 1993 to a US$55.6 billion deficit last year, total trade with Canada and Mexico more than tripled during that period, reaching US$1.2 trillion by last year, with millions of US jobs depending on export industries. He said the goal of the negotiators should be to improve the agreement to make sure "at the end of the day, we are part of the solution and not part of the problem".

"My hope is that together we will produce a result which moves us to freer markets, fairer and more balanced trade and stronger ties between our three countries", he said.

The canadian minister of foreign Affairs, asked by chrystia Freeland, has already indicated this week that Canada will want to protect supply management that characterizes agricultural production, and the dispute resolution process.

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