Trump Proposes Bilateral Deals With Canada and Mexico

June 11, 2018

Trump Proposes Bilateral Deals With Canada and Mexico

President Trump’s latest idea on NAFTA is to negotiate separate bilateral agreements with Mexico and Canada – a strategy that met with immediate pushback from Canada and Mexico, as well as from Republican lawmakers in the US. White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow clarified the President’s intentions, saying: “The President is not going to leave NAFTA. He’s just going to try a different approach.” Senator Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, responded that it is “time to stay the course and work with our trading partners to find a path forward on an updated NAFTA.”

Tensions among negotiators were already high following the Trump Administration’s decision in late May to begin applying the punitive steel and aluminum tariffs to Canadian and Mexican imports, which were previously exempt. All of this has left the business community and trade leaders in Congress frustrated with both the pace and tenor of the talks. Some Republican lawmakers complain privately that US Trade Representative Lighthizer has botched the negotiations.

With the window for Congressional consideration of a renegotiated trade deal in this Congress now closed, expectations are low for progress in the coming months.

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