Trump sets plan to renegotiate NAFTA, local lawmakers keeping watch

U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer has sent a letter to congressional leaders, starting 90 days of consultations with lawmakers

Congressman Tin Ryan and Congressman Bill Johnson respond to the first presidential debate.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBN and The Associated Press) – Making good on a campaign promise, the Trump administration informed Congress  that it intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer has sent a letter to congressional leaders, starting 90 days of consultations with lawmakers over how to revamp the pact. Talks with Canada and Mexico can begin after that.

During the campaign, Donald Trump called NAFTA “a disaster.” Last month, White House aides spread word that President Trump was ready to pull out of the agreement. Within hours, the president reversed course, saying he’d seek a better deal first.

“We are going to give renegotiation a good strong shot,” Lighthizer says, noting that the 23-year-old agreement needs to better protect American factory workers and to reflect new technologies.

Congressman Tim Ryan, D-13th District, in a statement issued Thursday said he is apprehensive about the transparency of those negotiations, citing what he called an Administration of evasion and secrecy.

There is no denying that foreign trade deals like NAFTA have hurt hardworking Americans and our manufacturing sector. But while I welcome these re-negotiations, I call on President Trump to remember his campaign promise to prioritize the American worker. We cannot allow this to be yet another trade deal written by corporations and special interests. I am very worried about how transparent and accountable these NAFTA negotiations are going to be…-Congressman Tim Ryan

Ryan went on to say that he believes Mr. Trump has prioritized “his millionaire friends and business ties” and hasn’t done anything about the trade deficit with China.

Congressman Bill Johnson, R-6th District, responded by saying he is looking forward to working with the President to improve and update NAFTA.

I look forward to working with the Trump Administration to improve and update NAFTA. President Trump made a campaign promise to renegotiate NAFTA – it’s time to get it done. NAFTA must be modernized to protect American workers against unfair imports, while opening more markets for exporting our own products. American workers deserve nothing less than a fair trade deal and the chance to compete on a level playing field – Congressman Bill Johnson

The 90-day period would end August 16, 2017. The Administration is required to submit more detailed negotiating objectives 30 days prior to the start of the talks.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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