On Monday, President Trump's Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released an 18-page summary of the Trump administration's objectives in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. The document is the first step in revisiting NAFTA, allowing formal talks with Canada and Mexico to open in as little as 30 days. The summary explicitly states that a U.S. goal will be reducing the trade deficit with Mexico and China, but business groups and free-trade Republicans mostly breathed tentative sighs of relief.
"There's nothing in there that terrifies establishment Republicans on Capitol Hill or the Mexicans and Canadians who'll ultimately be sitting across the negotiating table," says Jonathan Swan at Axios. "In short: Plenty were worried Trump would blow up NAFTA and today's document is the clearest sign they're moving in a more conventional direction." A majority in Congress would need to approve a reworked trade deal.
The proposed areas of renegotiation, many of them vaguely worded, include a new section on e-commerce and the digital economy, new labor and environmental rules, a modified trade-enforcement mechanism, and a section to ward off "currency manipulation." Trump had pledged during the presidential campaign that he would scrap NAFTA, but was dissuaded by map-wielding advisers and coordinated phone calls from the leaders of Mexico and Canada.