The NAFTA negotiations are only a month away. But next week we should find out at least some of the changes the U.S. Government will be trying to make in the 25 year old three way trade deal between Canada the United States and Mexico.
July 17th is the deadline for the Trump administration to notify Congress of its broad goals in the trade talks. For most of June, the Commerce Department and the Office of the Trade Representative heard representations from virtually every sector of the U.S. Economy.
The groups that made those representations are now about to find out whether their issues will be on Washington’s negotiating list.
Those that make it, and those that don’t, will get a chance to make their case publicly. That is because the Trade sub-committee of the House Ways and Means Committee will hold public hearings on July 18th to hear representatives from the manufacturing, agriculture and service sectors of the American economy.
These hearings are important, because any final NAFTA agreement will have to be approved by the full Ways and Means Committee and by the Senate Finance Committee before being sent to the House of Representatives and the full Senate for a vote.
The second date to watch for is August 14th. That is when NAFTA negotiations can legally begin. August 14th is a Monday. Washington usually does not like to work in August, but in this case it probably will.
That is because of a third date, December 15th. That is when the Mexicans would like the talks finished. Both Canada and the U.S. are doubtful that can happen, but the Mexicans are pointing out that Presidential elections will be held there next July. A left-wing candidate has been leading in the polls and they don’t want the NAFTA negotiations to become the dominant issue in the polls.
Don Newman is Senior Counsel at Ensight, a Member of the Order of Canada, and a life-member and past president of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery.