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Canada, the United States and Mexico begin the difficult renegotiation of the Aléna

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – SAUL LOEB – | Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, one of the negotiators of Mexico, here on June 6, 2017 in Washington

On Wednesday, Canada, the United States and Mexico began discussions to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (Aléna), recognizing at the outset that the task would be “difficult”.

“The first challenge is to find common ground among the three countries and this will undoubtedly be a difficult process,” said Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Mexico’s chief negotiator, in a statement to the press alongside Of its Canadian and American counterparts. A view shared by United States negotiator Robert Lighthizer.

Imposed by US President Donald Trump, who made it a priority of his policy, the modernization of this trade treaty, almost a quarter century old, is unavoidable, unanimously stressed the countries, gathered until Sunday in Washington .

“Aléna is a great success for the three countries but we also agree that we must modernize it,” said Guajardo Villarreal, urging his partners to look to the future rather than turning to the past , “To embrace the innovations of the 21st century”.

Mexico pledged “to win a win-win agreement for the three countries,” he said.

Ⓒ POOL/AFP/Archives – HOANG DINH Nam – | US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, here in Hanoi, May 21, 2017

But Washington intends above all to tackle the imbalance of its trade balance with Mexico, which since the signing of the treaty has gone from a surplus of $ 1.6 billion to a deficit of nearly $ 64 billion dollars.

“We must ensure that this colossal deficit is resolved and that we have more reciprocal balance,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer insisted.

“For the automobile sector alone, the deficit with Mexico is 68 billion,” he said, adding that “at least 700,000 jobs in the United States ‘NAFTA.

President Trump himself has repeatedly denounced the Aléna as “disaster”, blaming him for many disappearances of jobs in the United States.

He has the support of a part of the Democratic opposition on this issue. One of the party’s parliamentarians, Rosa DeLauro, said on Tuesday that “Aléna is directly responsible for the relocation of one million high-paying jobs”.

However, it is vital for the Mexican economy that 80% of Mexican exports, mainly manufactured goods such as cars and agricultural products, are destined for the United States.

– Mexico “proactive” –

With Canada, both the largest customer and largest supplier of energy in the United States, the debate should be more peaceful.

Ⓒ GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/Archives – ALEX WONG – | According to Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat in the shadow of US officials, “Aléna is directly responsible for the relocation of one million high-paying jobs”. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee May 24, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The subcommittee held a hearing on “Department of Education Budget.” Alex Wong / Getty Images / AFPWASHINGTON, DC – MAY 24: US Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is the author of a series of articles on the subject of the study. The subcommittee held a hearing on “Department of Education Budget.” Alex Wong / Getty Images / AFP

“I am pleased to note that if we look at the trade balance of goods and services, we have an extremely balanced and even almost perfectly balanced trade relationship,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said at a press conference. press conference.

Earlier, she said that the renegotiation of the treaty was “a historic project” and stressed that the North American Free Trade Area was “the world’s largest economic zone.”

“Canada, the United States and Mexico together account for a quarter of the world’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) with 7% of the world’s population,” she said.

Ⓒ GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/Archives – JUSTIN SULLIVAN – | The United States wants to eliminate a device favorable to Canada, notably on the litigation of timber

The minister, who expects “dramatic moments” during this renegotiation, recalled Canada’s “clear” objectives, including protecting the treaty “as a creator of jobs and economic growth”, “harmonizing” its rules and “Include labor standards, the environment, gender equality and indigenous peoples”.

Meanwhile, Mexico intends to play a “proactive role” in discussions with “the objective of strengthening America’s competitiveness,” said Guajardo Villarreal.

One point of crystallization will undoubtedly be the revision of the trade dispute settlement mechanism, known as “Chapter 19”, which provides for the arbitration of countervailing and dumping disputes.

The United States intends to abolish this system, which has so far been favorable to Canada, notably on the legal dispute over timber.

This litigation has seen many rebounds since 1983, with US producers accusing their Canadian counterparts of exporting this wood to the United States at a price of dumping, that is, lower than the cost of production.

On the issue of “Chapter 19”, Canadians will be able to count on the support of the Mexicans who want to maintain this system as well.

This week’s discussions are the first round of a series of at least seven rotating events in the three countries. The second round will be held in Mexico on September 5 before the third in Canada on an undisclosed date.

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