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Trump’s NAFTA Letter Echoes Obama Administration’s Language On TPP

By in Huffington Post on May 18, 2017

By Daniel Marans

President Donald Trump gave Congress the legally mandated 90-day notice on Thursday that he plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

The announcement, in a letter to congressional leaders from United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, lays the groundwork for Trump to deliver on a campaign promise to make the agreement fairer to American companies and workers.

But some of the goals laid out by Lighthizer resemble those that former President Barack Obama informed Congress he would pursue in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade accord that Trump ran against and formally withdrew from days after taking office.

Federal agencies frequently speak in boilerplate. But given Trump’s bombastic opposition to NAFTA, the bloodless language feels unusual coming from this administration’s trade representative. As a candidate, Trump called NAFTA the “worst trade deal ever signed.” He promised to radically remake it or scrap it altogether, and voiced similarly strong feelings about TPP.

In his one-page letter, Lighthizer is relatively vague about the areas of NAFTA that Trump would seek to overhaul. His most specific comments suggest Trump will focus most on updating NAFTA to extend free trade to areas like digital commerce and new types of intellectual property that were not addressed in the original accord.

Here is the key paragraph:

Many chapters are outdated and do not reflect modern standards. For example, digital trade was in its infancy when NAFTA was enacted. In addition, and consistent with the negotiating objectives in the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, our aim is that NAFTA be modernized to include new provisions to address intellectual property rights, regulatory […]    

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