White House Outlines Objectives For NAFTA Talks

The negotiating objectives released this week are the next step toward revising the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The Trump administration this week named reducing trade deficits as a top goal in the renegotiation of trade terms between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Monday released a series of objectives for talks regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement, the next step toward revising the 23-year-old trade pact.

President Trump made the nation's trade policies — and particularly its trade deficits — a central focus of his campaign and directed the administration to renegotiate NAFTA in May.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement that U.S. trade with Mexico shifted from a surplus of $1.3 billion in 1994 to a $64 billion deficit last year.

"We will seek to address America’s persistent trade imbalances, break down trade barriers, and give Americans new opportunities to grow their exports," Lighthizer said.

Although increasing trade deficits hinder growth, most economists argue they tend to reflect broader economic patterns and aren't necessarily bad.

Administration trade officials added that NAFTA is currently "unequipped" to address disputes with Canada over market access to dairy, wine, grain and other products.

The agency vowed to improve access for U.S. industry in Mexico and Canada, as well as eliminate intellectual property restrictions, unfair subsidies and other "market-distorting practices."

The objectives also include provisions regarding digital technology, along with labor and environmental guidelines in NAFTA side agreements.

Talks between the countries are set to kick off next month.

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