By on May 18, 2017


U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross want to begin formal talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico in a little over three months, adhering to the campaign pledges made by President Donald Trump last year. Ross explained to reporters that “sometime in the next couple of weeks” he will issue a notice to Congress stating the Trump administration intends to start formal NAFTA negotiations in just 90 days.

However, since he expressed his intentions in front of a gaggle of reporters, Congress is probably already aware. But it won’t be “official” until they get a piece of paper signed by the appropriate parties on the applicable letterhead — hopefully, embossed with a fierce-looking eagle surrounded by dollar signs. 

“That’s what triggers the beginnings of the formal process itself,” Ross told Reuters at a news conference with Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo.

The 90-day period places talks in late June or early July. That wait is mandatory under the fast-track negotiating authority granted to the president by Congress. Fast-track only allows an up or down vote on trade deals, which is aimed to keep things efficient and bolster U.S. negotiation strength. The delay also allows time for Robert Lighthizer, the nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, to settle into his new role. It’s assumed Lighthizer will echo much of the current administration’s stance on NAFTA.


With a lifetime of negotiating experience, the President understands how critical it is to put American workers and businesses first when it comes to trade. With tough and fair agreements, international trade can be used to grow our economy, return millions of jobs to America’s shores, and revitalize our nation’s suffering communities.

This strategy starts by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and making certain that any new trade deals are in the interests of American workers. President Trump is committed to renegotiating NAFTA. If our partners refuse a renegotiation that gives American workers a fair deal, then the President will give notice of the United States’ intent to withdraw from NAFTA.

In addition to rejecting and reworking failed trade deals, the United States will crack down on those nations that violate trade agreements and harm American workers in the process. The President will direct the Commerce Secretary to identify all trade violations and to use every tool at the federal government’s disposal to end these abuses.

Ross stated he was already consulting on the NAFTA talks with leaders of Congress’ trade panels, the Senate Finance Committee, and the House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee. He has also reached out to partner countries prior to formal negotiations. Mexico says is prepared to begin talks after May, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated his country is also willing to renegotiate NAFTA but had to finish its own legislative processes prior to beginning negotiations.

[Image: Architect of the Capitol]

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46 Comments on “U.S. Plans to Schedule Opening NAFTA Talks in Roughly 90 Days...”

  • avatar

    Oh goody goody goody!

    Maybe the US will finally break even on some deal.

    • 0 avatar
      tod stiles

      Why is it that we Americans think that only we are the arbiters of all that’s right and good on this planet? You really think after antagonizing and demonizing Mexico that we will somehow “break even”? Putting tariffs on Canadian lumber is a good negotiating tactic too.

      • 0 avatar

        tod, I’m hoping we’ll come out better than we have in the past.

        As to your opening question? The answer is that we Americans put the world back together again after WWII, at much pain and treasure. We bought everything others wanted to export to us because it meant income to them, as part of the nation-building.

        And everyone played us for the suckers that we were then, and are now. Taking advantage of us by subsidizing their exports, while applying taxes to our exports.

        • 0 avatar

          “I’m hoping we’ll come out better than we have in the past.’


          That chasm between reality and the alt-reality right just keeps on growing.

          The problem lies more in the fact that rich elites in the USA have neglected the USA middle class.

          Walling off the USA literally and figuratively isn’t going to be of much benefit to that middle class.

          “1. United States
          The U.S. economy remains the largest in the world in terms of nominal GDP. The $18.5 trillion U.S. economy is approximately 24.5% of the gross world product. The United States is an economic superpower that is highly advanced in terms of technology and infrastructure and has abundant natural resources.”

          • 0 avatar

            Sorry, BC but poor people are not hiring so the rich have the purse strings.

          • 0 avatar

            NormSV650, I hope that the NAFTA renegotiations are just the beginning of a complete review and renegotiation of ALL of America’s trade agreements.

            And Trump sure hired the right guy for the job!

            Shaking up the status quo is long overdue, and I hope that Trump will shake, rattle and roll the trading partners, each which is free to discontinue trading with the US of A.

            I say, let them find better deals than an equitable trading agreement with America. I doubt they can.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Deluded, are we?

          The US has performed quite well in the past and even now.

          The US now faces more competition, stiffling or standing over competition will only harm the US’es economic position.

          There are many more “stores” (countries) to buy from now compared to after WWII.

          Maybe the US needs to re-think it’s standing.

          • 0 avatar

            I agree that the US needs to re-think its standing, to be more favorable to America.

            And new liaisons in trade are indeed preferable to the old ones.

            When the US faced NO competition in trade, the trading partners treated America like a doormat, preventing sales of American exports while maximizing their export sales to America. That got us to where we’re at today.

            I’m ecstatic that someone like Trump has the stones to deal with this inequity in trading.

            If other nations don’t want to trade with us, let them trade with China. America did, and was at a disadvantage because of incompetent negotiations on the part of America’s negotiators.

            Hopefully, no more!

            But we shall see what we shall see. I would have preferred complete withdrawal and then individual negotiations between trading partners, but Trump relented into renegotiating NAFTA.

            (BTW, NAFTA was good for me and my Wal-Mart lifestyle. But America sure got suckered on that deal.)

          • 0 avatar

            “NAFTA was good for me and my Wal-Mart lifestyle. But America sure got suckered on that deal.”

            Simply put, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

            How exactly did the US get “suckered” on NAFTA, when the data shows it has lifted US GDP?

            BLS data, for example, shows us that US manufactured goods output (in constant dollars) has doubled since NAFTA was signed. In the same period, direct manufacturing employment (also per BLS data) has declined by 1/3. These manufacturing jobs have been destroyed by technology just as technology destroyed agricultural jobs a century ago.

            The good news is that (i) trade deals have lifted US GDP and living standards) and (ii) the same technology revolution that has wiped out unskilled manufacturing jobs has has created many more new jobs in IT and other services. To America’s great benefit.

          • 0 avatar

            If NAFTA were to be repealed, and strict immigration curbs were to be put into place, Highdesertcat would be among the first to become enraged over the skyrocketing inflationary shock, and he’d use his taxpayer-provided social security and pension, as well as what he saves each month by being on the government dole for health care coverage (he probably has an incredible, low deductible plan with dental coverage, free doctor visits, $8 prescription co-pays even for branded meds, etc.) to sneak to the border fence in his Toyota Tundra with the Trump/Pence bumper stickers and rear window Gadsden Flag and try to smuggle hard-working Mexican laborers to do the work on his “ranch” that he and his children and grandchildren are unable and/or too lazy to do for themselves.

          • 0 avatar

            ect, what you think is immaterial to what is going on in the real world. You can have your opinion but Trump has relented into renegotiating NAFTA. He said he would get out of it. He changed his mind.

            If Trump does more of this re-thinking, he may find that he will lose a ton of the support that got him elected into office.

            But whatever you and I spout or believe in has zero effect on the way that Trump will handle trading partners and the American economy.

          • 0 avatar

            “ect, what you think is immaterial to what is going on in the real world”.

            I have cited data, you express unsupported opinion.

            I’ve spent my career in the private sector, dealing at an executive level with real-world business, trade and investment issues. As deadweight has pointed out, you’ve spent your life sucking at the public teat. You know nothing about business, economics or trade.

            In the real world, supply chains across the NAFTA countries are so thoroughly integrated that it would be incredibly expensive and disruptive. US industry and agriculture (for different reasons) will weigh in heavily against any thought of terminating or seriously changing NAFTA.

            At the end of the day, there will be a few tweaks to enable everyone to declare victory. And the Trumpkins will suffer another in a long line of disappointments about their expectations from a Trump presidency.

          • 0 avatar

            DW, you’re always good for a laugh. Maybe you’ll come around to liking Cadillacs.

            I’m very thankful for how far I’ve come since my humble beginnings. Others should be so lucky. Most are not.

            So I support Trump’s efforts to get people who wanna work to working again, ’cause obviously they weren’t keepers for their former employers.

            Employers find other options for the keepers, rather than giving them the pink slip. Look at what Toyota did moving their keepers to TX from CA.

        • 0 avatar

          Oh, HDC. I think you and I are closer aligned than most. But on this I must respectfully disagree. Full disclosure – I’m a Canadian, and able to emigrate to the USA under NAFTA (as a Professional Engineer) but have no plans to do so.
          True, the USA contributed greatly to WWII. But so did many other Allied countries – most of whom were there more than a year ahead of the USA.
          NAFTA was deliberately negotiated to give the USA secure access to vast quantities of resources (from Canada), cheap labour (Mexico), with profits flowing to multinational Corporations headquartered in the USA.
          The risk to the USA is that others form new alliances – where the USA has no input. Ultimately, I believe the biggest risk to the USA is when it loses reserve currency status. And the USA can no longer borrow in US Dollars. That will be a true new world order.
          So, best wishes to the USA, Mexico and Canada. I’m not overly concerned. If the USA doesn’t want access to Canadian resources, the Chinese do.

          • 0 avatar

            “most of whom were there more than a year ahead of the USA”
            Actually, more than 2 years

          • 0 avatar

            OldWingGuy, I fully expect people to disagree because we each interpret the same facts differently.

            However, at this time we find that the gov’t of the US of A views the issue the same way I do, and that’s why Trump has agreed to a renegotiation instead of an outright withdrawal from NAFTA, like the withdrawal from the TPP.

            Trump is a union guy. So we’ll see an outcome that heavily favors American labor and unions. Of all the things I like that I see Trump do, the union-bias is not one of them.

            Maybe the many good things Trump has done/is doing/will be doing, will offset the rise in union-meddling in the years to come.

        • 0 avatar

          Empirical data is that NAFTA has resulted in a permanent 1% boost in US GDP – trade raises all boats, and ALL the NAFTA partners have been winners.

          Those who believe that the US “loses” under trade agreements don’t understand economics or the provisions and results of those trade deals.

          A statement such as “Taking advantage of us by subsidizing their exports, while applying taxes to our exports” is proof positive of this.

          • 0 avatar

            ect, I believe America should slap the same tariffs and taxes on imports as the exporters do on the stuff America exports to them.

          • 0 avatar

            “America should slap the same tariffs and taxes on imports as the exporters do on the stuff America exports to them”

            In the case of NAFTA, what are these supposed “tariffs and taxes”?

            In the case of other trade agreements, what are these “tariffs and taxes”?

            In both cases, they are mostly non-existent.

          • 0 avatar

            ect, I was including future negotiations with other trading partners outside of NAFTA as well, like Europe and Asia.

            But to your point, there are tarriffs and taxes that Mexico and Canada levy on the stuff they import from America.

            Why does my Canadian brother-in-law do his shopping in the US? Because the American stuff he likes is much more expensive in Canada.

            Just ask Mikey about his Impala.

          • 0 avatar

            “But to your point, there are tarriffs (sic) and taxes that Mexico and Canada levy on the stuff they import from America”

            Again, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

            There is no tariff (which is the correct spelling) on either Canada or Mexico. If you imagine that there is, name it.

            Ditto re taxes. Both Canada and Mexico levy a form of multi-level sales tax on all goods sold in the country, but this applies to all goods, whether foreign or domestic, so there is no impact on trade.

          • 0 avatar

            ect, keep on keeping on. Believe what you will. I won’t disagree with you.

            But if NAFTA has been so great, than why would Trump need to renegotiate it? Not everyone feels the way you do.

            If NAFTA was so beneficial for ALL parties involved, than why did so many people vote Trump into office because they felt that America was sucking ‘hind teet in this deal?

            I’m going to bed. Good night. I’m going to be dreaming of better trading deals for the US. Maybe MY dreams will come true. I hope so.

          • 0 avatar

            @ect – your debate with HDC is typical of the chasm that exists in the USA. Logic and empirical scientific fact is the first victim of the war on the truth. The only truth that matters to them is what their demigod tells them is true.

          • 0 avatar

            Lou, I entirely agree.

            Part of the irony is that HDC engages in the Trumpkin ritual condemnation of the so-called “fake media” while blindly supporting the Liar-in-Chief.

          • 0 avatar

            ” permanent 1% boost in US GDP – trade raises all boats, and ALL the NAFTA partners have been winners.”

            If only those nice GDP figures translated into stable decent paying employment for the decimated areas of de-industrialization. It’s true that in dollar figures the value of our manufacturing output is higher than it has ever been, the focus on high tech high value (and lower quantity) manufacturing (think jet engines) in a more automated fashion has much to do with that.

            But the reality is that all of those car component suppliers, car factories, appliance factories moving down to Mexico has really put the hurt on many small towns where said factory was the major employer.

            You can talk about GDP all you want, I’ll gladly drive you around some local neighborhoods that have been devastated with poverty, drugs, and crime once the factory moved out. The RCA factory site near my old stomping grounds on the East side of Indianapolis is a prime example. That 1% GDP wasn’t worth it at all.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m a bit late to the party but here’s my 2 cents. Full disclosure, I’m Canadian.

            Free trade is a 3 way street in NAFTA’s case where it must be mutually beneficial overall for the agreement to succeed. That means there are going to be compromises and some segments of every country’s economy will lose. Trump is looking wrongly looking at NAFTA as an all or nothing proposition.

            I’m also not against renegotiating NAFTA. It’s 25 years old now and some parts of it are out of date or maybe even obsolete. Almost certainly new items need to added to it.

          • 0 avatar

            Guys, we’ve got to keep in mind that no matter how much we debate and discuss the NAFTA issue, it is not going to have any effect on the upcoming international discussions.

            I am ecstatic that Wilbur Ross will be leading the renegotiation. Maybe we’ll see trade agreements that will favor the US more. It’s about time!

            Sutherland, Trump said he would withdraw from NAFTA and negotiate individual trade agreements with potential partners.

            He relented by agreeing to a renegotiation. That will not make many of Trump’s supporters happy.

            Like TPP, NAFTA had to go, not renegotiated.

          • 0 avatar

            gtemnykh, I feel your pain, I certainly don’t wish anyone ill. The problem is that the benefits of trade agreements tend to be spread very broadly, while the losers are often tightly clustered – and therefore much more visible.

            I attended a conference a couple of months ago where a leading economist pointed to the decline in US manufacturing employment, and noted that for every 1 job lost to a trade deal, 8 were lost to automation.

            He also noted a change in structural employment – that the current US reality is that many companies can’t find people with the skills they need, while the low- and unskilled can’t find jobs.

            We are in the midst of an era of huge dislocation due to technology, that affects many industries and will only grow, not shrink. There is a huge need for retraining programs to help people into the new economy, but the GOP is loath to spend public money on any sort of education, which to my mind is absolutely criminal.

            I’m a 65-year-old executive/professional with 3 university degrees, including both a JD and an MBA. Despite that, I take courses every year to update and upgrade my skills to survive in this economy.

            I’ve always said that education is the greatest single investment that we make as a society and as a species in our own future. Historically, I meant this to refer to traditional public education – since 1870, there has been a direct correlation between increased educational attainment in the US and economic growth. In the new economy, however, it impacts us all and is essential for us all.

          • 0 avatar

            ect you make some valid points in terms of the role of automation in the numbers of jobs lost as well as the lack of investment in job re-training infrastructure, in general I agree.

            And yet I still maintain that the outsourcing of the literal thousands of factories south of the border or overseas to China/Taiwan/Malaysia is the bigger issue. Even a highly automated factory still needs lots (hundreds, thousands) of people for a litany of different tasks that robots simply cannot do. A factory shifting to automation is typically an eventual process during which many workers (a majority even, over the span of decades) are eventually displaced and the community the factory is in seems to adapt better (this is simply my theory). Just shutting everything down where EVERYONE gets laid off is a much bigger shock to the health of the local community IMO.

          • 0 avatar

            gtemnykh, consider this. From a quick internet search, it seems that 30 years ago (1987) the D4 manufactured 6.6 million vehicles in the US, and UAW membership was 1 million. In 2015, the D3 manufactured 6.4 million vehicles in the US, and UAW membership was 400,000.

            The 600,000 jobs that disappeared in D3 plants were lost to automation, not trade deals. And they are gone forever. The same can be said across the manufacturing sector.

            The jobs that automation/technology creates are different jobs, that generally need more and different skills – which is why we should be investing in lifetime learning.

          • 0 avatar

            ect again I’m not disagreeing on automation playing a major role, as well as retraining folks on the line to program robots and such (which pays quite decently, I’m in automation myself).

            But consider in your 6.6 million number the percent of the components that are still made here. Modern car factories really are a place to assemble components (and stamp sheetmetal and paint of course). Increasingly so for the D3, those components are coming from Mexico and China and Malaysia. In Indiana Delphi and Remy’s Kokomo and Anderson operations were totally obliterated not by automation, but by outsourcing of the electronic component manufacturing to China. Most recently in Indianapolis, it was UTEC’s Carrier assembly? Mexico (as well as a plant in Huntington). Rexnord’s bearings? Mexico. Conversely, it is impressive to see the footprint Toyota has built up in Southern Indiana and Kentucky. Aisin has a plant in Seymour, they have a headlight factory in Lebanon KY. I’ve driven through these places, and believe me having a big employer like that in a small town makes a BIG difference for the overall health of the community. These day’s I’ll sooner buy a Sienna made in Princeton Indiana out of American made components before I touch a Canadian Caravan full of “Chinesium.”

    • 0 avatar


  • avatar

    Here comes an entire thread of Trump Derangement Syndrome #Triggered

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    “We will enter the negotiations with the view others will lose out!”

    Not a good way to start.

    The US, like all developed countries must compete fairly. Imagine if the US went to the Olympics only if the rest of the World spots them 30 gold, 50 silver and 80 bronze medals. This is how the US expects to trade. It just ain’t go’in hap’in!

    Meanwhile China is creating “The Silk Road” and the US (read Donald Dump) blew away a great oppotunity to increase the US’es influence …. pushing aside the TPP. 40% of the global economy.

    Well, I’ve been stating for a long time “he who controls trade, controls all”.

    Donnie Dump will force Canada and Mexico to broaden their ties with China.

    Donnie Dump’s distorted views on the US’es strength will undermine the US’es position in the world.

    The US can’t make it alone, it needs others, but it is becoming more evident others will look elsewhere for trade at the expense of the US’es standard of living. Look at the UK, Brexit is now impacting their standard of living and the capital is yet to move (just started) to new centres in Frankfurt, Dublin, Amsterdam, Paris, etc.

    The World has changed since WWII. America must compete, as the capitalistic consumer driven world is primarily of your design.

    Stop crying and whining and work.

  • avatar

    Right… Enter negotiations with one arm tied behind your back because of an on-going investigation into your administration and arbitrarily time limit the negotiations because you’re afraid the next Mexican guy is going to be really left leaning and unfriendly about all the smack you’ve talked about their country these past two years… I’m sure this is the sort of strategy that’s in “The Art of the Deal” somewhere….

    • 0 avatar

      @stuntmonkey – The next Mexican election is July 1, 2018. A new Mexican Government won’t be able to start negotiations for at least a year after the election. You also pointed out that the most probable new government isn’t going to be as friendly. It is in the best interests of both Canada and Mexico to bargain together and to proceed very slowly.

      Sockpuppetpotus has to come to some sort of NAFTA deal quickly to appease the populist right. His popularity is slipping even further after firing Comey.
      Currently he is around 83% among Republicans and overall around 40%.

      Why is this bad?

      “The 2018 United States elections will mostly be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. These midterm elections will take place in the middle of Republican President Donald Trump’s term. All 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 34 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be contested.”

      ” Republicans 238*. Democrats 193**. Vacancies 4. ”

      “Since 1946, when presidents are above 50% approval, their party loses an average of 14 seats in the U.S. House in the midterm elections, compared with an average loss of 36 seats when presidents are below that mark.”

      If Democrats gain the majority, they will have the power to push him to reveal taxes and more aggressively investigate links to Russia. That puts much more pressure on him and since he reacts impulsively to any affront, his popularity will drop even further. It also makes the odds of impeachment more likely.

      I read that if his popularity among Republicans drop below 70%, a landslide Democratic victory is assured. If Republicans feel that he is going to pull them all down with him, they will turn on him.

      Et tu, Brute?

      Et tu, Pence?

      • 0 avatar

        Addendum to above post:

        The US has given 90 days notice to renegotiate NAFTA. It is highly unlikely he will withdraw. Kushner is pro-globalization. If he so chooses, a withdrawal notice needs 6 months advanced notice.

        Do the math, 9 months from now puts the USA right smack dab into mid-term Elections.

        9 months is an eternity considering how well he performed in those first 100 days.

  • avatar

    Yeah, right. Donald Trump will deliver on this campaign promise just like he has on all the others. LOL.

    Between dodging federal investigations, firing his staff, sending nasty tweets in the middle of the night, and playing golf at Mar a Lago, I’m surprised he has time for anything else.

    In fact, I’d be surprised if he even knew what NAFTA stands for.

  • avatar

    Saw this on the news last night with the Mexican and American trade guys talking their bs. Wondered where Canada is in all this?

    • 0 avatar

      Watching the NHL conference finals.

    • 0 avatar

      @Fred – some politicians and pundits are pushing for putting countervailing duties on some USA products especially states who trade heavily with Canada and are pro-lumber tariff.
      Most experts have said to stay cool and ignore ego-in-chief’s rhetoric. Canada has won every trade dispute with the USA over lumber. The USA wants our resources and as others have pointed out, China will take everything we ship them.

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