U.S.T.R. Lighthizer Tells U.S. Chamber of Commerce NAFTA “On Thin Ice”…

Ambassador Lighthizer comments on NAFTA prior to departing for China.  In the auto sector, Mexico and Canada are still arguing for more Asian/Chinese parts for U.S. automobiles.  The U.S. position is for higher North American content. Loggerheads.

I still find it stunning how many people cannot see the ridiculous side of the Mexican and Canadian position; and how that showcases the insanity of NAFTA. Can/Mex are not arguing for more Canada and Mexico content, they are holding out for more Asian content.  Their economic models are nothing more than brokering the assembly of cheap Asian goods through their NAFTA access to the U.S. market.  Ridiculous.

WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Tuesday that if a deal to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement cannot be reached with Canada and Mexico in about three weeks, its approval by the U.S. Congress could be in jeopardy.

Lighthizer said at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event that a deal to update NAFTA was needed quickly because of the lengthy notification process for congressional approval of trade deals.

If a deal takes too long, he said approval by the current Republican-controlled Congress may be on “thin ice” without sufficient time for a vote before November elections put a new Congress in control in January 2019.

Lighthizer is traveling to Beijing for trade talks with Chinese officials on Thursday and Friday, but will resume intensive negotiations with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo on May 7.

“We’re going to meet again on Monday, and we’ll see,” Lighthizer said. “If we can get a good agreement, I’d like to get it done a week or two after that. If not, then you start having a problem.”  (read more)

Regarding China, Lighthizer expanded his comments drawing attention to the inherent differences between a communist “controlled” state policies, and the free market:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s chief trade negotiator said on Tuesday he was not looking to negotiate changes to China’s state-driven economic system in trade talks in Beijing this week but would seek to expose it to more foreign competition.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce he viewed the talks with top Chinese officials on Thursday and Friday as the start of a long learning process for Washington and Beijing to better manage their trade differences.

“It is not my objective to change the Chinese system,” Lighthizer said. “It seems to work for them. … But I have to be in a position where the United States can deal with it, where the United States isn’t the victim of it; and that’s where our role is.”

Lighthizer will be part of a Trump administration delegation that includes U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, White House trade and manufacturing adviser Peter Navarro and new White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow.

Ross said earlier on Tuesday that Trump was prepared to levy tariffs on China if the delegation did not reach a negotiated settlement to reduce trade imbalances.

Speaking to CNBC television before traveling to China for the talks, Ross said he had “some hope” agreements could be reached to resolve the trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

But Ross and Navarro, who spoke to steel company executives in Washington on Tuesday, both said any final decision would be made by Trump.  (read more)

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