WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Steps away from this week’s NAFTA trade negotiations, business unified in hopes of sending a singular message: do no harm.
Representatives from the United States, Canada and Mexico convened behind closed doors at a Washington, D.C. hotel in an effort to strike a new North American Free Trade Agreement. And not far away, industry representatives from all three nations sat waiting and hoping to influence the talks.
Days - Meetings - Lobbyists - Dark - Rumors
After two days of meetings, lobbyists admitted privately that they remained mostly in the dark, swapping rumors about dates and times of future meetings but unsure what progress was being made in the first round of discussions. The meetings were largely expected to be procedural, with little discussion on substance in the early days.
The decision to renegotiate NAFTA has largely been driven by politics, chiefly U.S. President Donald Trump, who earlier this year threatened to withdraw entirely.
Business - Hand - Agreement - Governments - Changes
Business, on the other hand, has largely praised the agreement and hopes to convince all three governments to make minimal changes to the pact.
U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade has quadrupled since NAFTA took effect in 1994, surpassing $1 trillion in 2015.
Boat - Flavio - Volpe - President - Canada
“We’re all in the same boat,” said Flavio Volpe, president of the Canada’s Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association. “In the end we all serve primarily the U.S. consumer. So if you’re going to raise the cost structure, or if you’re going to change the dynamic flow of good or people in those three countries, you’re really hurting the cost to market for the U.S. customer.”
The U.S. had an autos and auto parts trade deficit of $74 billion with Mexico last year – without which, there would have been a U.S. trade surplus, not a $64-billion deficit. The United States had a much smaller $5.6-billion automotive trade deficit with Canada last year, but autos was the still a major component of...
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