Step 1 in NAFTA renegotiation could start within two weeks: Ross

The U.S. government hopes to take the first formal step in renegotiating NAFTA

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government hopes to take the first formal step in renegotiating NAFTA within the next couple of weeks, setting the stage for actual negotiations with Canada and Mexico later this year.

The Trump administration could officially advise Congress within two weeks of its intention to renegotiate the quarter-century-old agreement, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Friday.

That would begin a minimum 90-day consultation phase. The administration would then spend a few months collecting input on what positions it should bring to the negotiating table, gathering that advice from lawmakers and industry advisory committees before real negotiations start as early as summer.

It may well take longer than 90 days: American lawmakers have a daunting to-do list that includes more pressing priorities, such as health reform and the first major change to U.S. corporate taxes since the 1980s.

U.S. law gives them a say on NAFTA, too. If the administration wants lawmakers to agree to a simple yes-or-no vote on a trade deal, it must consult with Congress throughout the process — before, during, and after negotiations.

“There’s a very specific set of processes that is required to get through the … so-called fast track,” Ross said Friday, during a news conference with Mexico’s Minister of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal.

“The next stage will be — hopefully sometime in the next couple of weeks — issuing the 90-day (consultation) letter. That’s what triggers the beginnings of the formal process itself. We don’t have a date certain for that. We’ve been in discussion with the (key committees) — (the) Senate finance committee and the House ways-and-means committee.”

But the process could be slowed down by a congressional logjam.

The Senate and House committees that would be involved in consultations are tied up with controversial health and tax reforms. It’s not just the finance and ways-and-means committees that need to get involved.

So do the agriculture committees in both chambers, according to the latest version of U.S. fast-track law, which includes nearly six dozen references to consultations that need to be performed.

There are already major battles on Capitol Hill — between the parties, and also within them.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau referred to one such feud when asked Friday about a proposal for a border tax — an idea being hotly debated between the two parties, inside the parties, and within the White House itself.

The Canadian government has warned it could retaliate if such a tariff-like border tax were introduced. Trudeau, speaking in Texas at an energy conference, referred Friday to unintended consequences.

But he pointed out that it’s still far from a done deal.

“I think we’re a long way from it being adopted. And as I’ve said, we still don’t know exactly what form it will take — whether it will be different for Canada, or for elsewhere. So I’m not going to get into it,” Trudeau said.

“(But) we think the border adjustment tax would be bad — not just for Canada, but for the United States as well.”

In Canada, the trade process is slightly less formal — guidelines require ministers to present memorandums to cabinet before trade talks, and the government consults industry stakeholders. In the U.S., such consultations are explicitly circumscribed by law.

Just Posted

Accused murderer’s story questioned

Jason Klaus spends day being cross-examined by lawyer for co-accused Joshua Frank

Red Deer Royals extend fundraising deadline for St. Joseph fieldhouse project

Fundraising chair says it’s a tough slog raising money in this economy

Red Deer seeks public input on coming changes to sign bylaw

A half-kilometre buffer zone could separate billboards in Red Deer under proposed… Continue reading

Innisfail man injured in home invasion

Police say the injury was non life-threatening

Credentials questioned man at Remembrance Day services

Veterans are crying foul after an alleged faker posed as a former… Continue reading

VIDEO: Red Deerians taste what the city has to offer

Red Deerians sampled some of the finest foods Central Alberta restaurants have… Continue reading

Volunteer with victim services in Red Deer

Learn more at info session on Nov. 27

Updated: Missing Sylvan Lake women found

Women were reported missing earlier this week

Liberals propose billions for affordable housing, including individual benefits

A Liberal government fond of promising help for those working hard to… Continue reading

Alberta Party sees growth in Central Alberta

Greg Clark addressed health care needs addressed in Red Deer

Ponoka council freezes Ponoka Fire Department spending

All discretionary spending frozen until full budget numbers are presented

WATCH: Ponoka’s Festival of Trees sees continued support

Three days of celebration and fundraising held at the Calnash Ag Event Centre

Creationist will speak at home-schooling convention in Red Deer

Ken Ham has debated Bill Nye on the Earth’s origins

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month