The Trump administration on Monday released its wish list for NAFTA negotiations, taking the latest step in what is likely to be a long process of reevaluating the nearly 25-year-old trade deal.
United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Monday laid out the United States' priorities in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, a deal entered into by the U.S., Mexico and Canada under the Clinton administration. The United States will seek to balance trade deficits and add items on a "digital economy" and labor and environmental obligations when renegotiations of the deal commence next month.
"President Trump continues to fulfill his promise to renegotiate NAFTA to get a much better deal for all Americans," Lighthizer said in a statement.
According to Monday's set to objectives, the Trump administration will take aim at reducing U.S. trade deficits. The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with Mexico was $55.6 billion in 2016 and $12.5 billion with Canada.
It will also seek to update and strengthen rules of origin "to ensure that the benefits of NAFTA go to products genuinely made in the United States and North America." Rules of origin dictate the percent of a product that must be produced in NAFTA countries.
The administration will work to eliminate "unfair subsidies" and "market-distorting practices" by state-owned enterprises and what it deems burdensome restrictions on intellectual property.
It will also seek to ensure NAFTA countries don't engage in currency manipulation "to prevent effective balance of payments adjustment or to gain an unfair competitive advantage." As Reuters notes, neither Canada or Mexico is currently on a U.S. Treasury "watch list" for possible currency manipulation.
Some of the provisions from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump scrapped, have been resurfaced in the United States' NAFTA revisions.
To be sure, Lighthizer's objectives are largely a wish list of items, and Canada and Mexico will have their own versions as well.
Trump railed against NAFTA during the election and moved to renegotiate it after reportedly wanting to scrap the deal entirely earlier this year. Lighthizer in May sent a letter to Congress notifying it of the administration's intent to initiate NAFTA renegotiations. Negotiations are set to begin in August.
President Bill Clinton signed NAFTA in December 1993.
Trump's bark has largely been harsher than his bite on NAFTA since his inauguration, and concerns that he will take radical action on the agreement have waned, at least temporarily.
The Mexican peso, which plunged after his surprise November victory on concerns he would take tough action on Mexico, has regained since its losses. The U.S. Commerce Department in June rolled out a new round of tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber. The duties were less aggressive than expected.
The White House has declared this week "Made in America" week in an effort to highlight U.S.-made products. Trump on Monday hosted companies from all 50 states that make products locally. His companies and his daughter's, which manufacture their products abroad, were not invited.
"Remember in the old days they used to have 'Made in USA,' 'Made in America?' But made in the USA." He said. "We're going to start doing that again."