Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

USA demands raise fears that leaving NAFTA could hurt economy

USA demands raise fears that leaving NAFTA could hurt economy

"As far as I can tell there is not a world oversupply of agricultural products", Ross said during a panel discussion in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, calling the potential dangers of a NAFTA withdrawal to food producers an "empty threat".

Ross's statements come as representatives from Mexico, Canada and the USA discuss potential terms for renegotiating the 23-year-old trade deal Trump has called one of the worst deals ever made.

The president reiterated that "I've been opposed to NAFTA for a long time in terms of the fairness of NAFTA".

His comments came after Trump had previewed "a tough negotiation" over NAFTA - a quarter-century-year-old trade pact that also includes Mexico.

Trump made revamping or ending NAFTA - which he has called "a awful deal for our country" - a core pillar of his election campaign as he promised more benefits for United States workers in global trade deals.

Trump's hardline positions in the negotiations are drawing increasing resistance in the US, leaving the administration isolated at the negotiating table.

One major point of contention is a move by the Trump administration to substantially increase the proportion of USA content required for goods assembled on the continent. Trump left open the possibility that the U.S. would seek to establish bilateral deals with Canada and Mexico if talks were to break down.

"Absolutely it's possible we won't be able to reach a deal with one or the other, but in the meantime we'll make a deal with one", Trump said in the Oval Office, seated next to Trudeau. "Canada will continue to work with the U.S.to modernize NAFTA so that people in Canada, the United States, and Mexico can benefit from good, well-paying jobs and increased opportunities to provide for their families". "If you don't have any NAFTA, you're going to see an ugly day for the markets in the USA because that obliterates the integrated North American market".

The fourth round of talks will extend to October 17.

The trade negotiations this week in Washington have gotten off to a rocky start, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce warning that the Trump administration might be sabotaging the talks with unrealistic proposals.

One of the most contentious US proposals is around so-called rules of origin for vehicles, which govern what share of a auto must be built within NAFTA countries to receive the pact's benefits.

The U.S. side sees strengthening the rules of origin for the auto industry as a way to bring back some auto parts production, including electronics, from Asia. "There are several poison pill proposals still on the table that could doom the entire deal".

"U.S. negotiators have made conditions so tough that Mexico and Canada could reject them, which would be the ideal excuse for the US government to announce its departure from NAFTA", Coutino wrote. "I think it's going to work out well for both countries and Mexico".

On Friday, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown offered his support, saying it was "about time" U.S. trade negotiators "took the pen away from corporate lobbyists and started writing trade policy that puts American workers first". On the campaign trail, he called NAFTA a job-killing disaster.

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