U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross indicated Wednesday that the best time period to complete the North American Free Trade Agreement’s negotiation is by early January. By setting this window, the Trump Administration hopes to have the renegotiation done before both Mexico’s general elections and the 2018 U.S. Congressional elections (Reuters).
According to Ross, Mexico’s elections will make the approval of NAFTA more complicated because it needs Mexican congressional approval. Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo also urged for a final deal by the end of this year (Bloomberg). In the U.S., presidential powers to negotiate trade deals that can accepted or rejected by Congress without amendments expires in July 2018, justifying the urgency of the Trump Administration
Ross also said Wednesday that the Commerce Department would impose anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on Mexican sugar and Canadian softwood lumber as part of the renegotiations if settlements over the disputes are not achieved. The Mexican government subsidies sugar companies and Canadian lumber producers utilize government-owned land to produce, making it difficult for U.S. competitors to compete in both industries. Ross hopes to resolve both of these issues before the official modernization of NAFTA.
NAFTA negotiations will formally begin around August 16, following a 90-day period of domestic consultations with U.S. lawmakers, industry, and the public.
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