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Trump Serves Notice on NAFTA: The U.S. Won't Accept a Touchup

August 16, 2017

President Donald Trump doesn’t want a fresh coat of paint on the North American Free Trade Agreement. He wants to strip the house down to the studs.

That was the main takeaway on the first day of talks with Mexico and Canada to revise the 23-year-old accord. Some analysts had been expecting a modest revision of the accord to bring it in line with provisions included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. While Trump withdrew from TPP in his first week in office, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has indicated parts of TPP could form the starting point for a new Nafta....

“Both Canada and Mexico were pretty accommodating, and the U.S. sent a shot across the bow about how significant and difficult these negotiations will be,” said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the business group Council of the Americas.

Like any negotiations, trade talks involve posturing. Opening positions inevitably give way to compromise. Lighthizer, a veteran trade lawyer who honed his negotiating skills under Ronald Reagan, knows the importance of projecting strength….

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