Statement of Lori Wallach, Director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch
Note: Today, the top Mexican trade officials of the current Peña Nieto and incoming López Obrador administrations will meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. At issue is whether deals can be reached between the United States and Mexico on the last outstanding issues in North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations in time for the pact to be signed before Mexico’s current president leaves office. The high-level meeting occurs five weeks before the August 31 date by which the U.S. Congress must be formally notified of a deal under Fast Track procedures for Mexico’s current president to sign a new pact. Even if a deal is signed this year, a U.S. congressional vote would likely occur in 2019. Lori Wallach said:
“What’s new is Mexico’s heightened motivation to finalize a deal now, given that both the outgoing and incoming administrations appear to have compelling reasons to want a deal done in time for the current Mexican president to sign it and they generally agree on what terms would be acceptable.
“If a deal cannot be reached now and negotiations roll into 2019, the timeline for talks to be concluded, as well as NAFTA’s ultimate fate, become less certain.
“Achieving a deal that can get through the U.S. Congress and that satisfies President Donald Trump’s high-profile campaign pledges to bring back manufacturing jobs and reduce the NAFTA trade deficit is extremely tricky, but ironically less so if current predictions of Democratic gains in the midterm elections hold true. For decades, congressional Democrats have advocated for the NAFTA changes that could deliver the outcomes Trump promised, including elimination of NAFTA’s investor protections that promote job outsourcing and the addition of strong, enforceable labor and environmental standards to raise wages in Mexico and level the playing field.”