In a letter to Congress, Lighthizer said that while the US economy has changed over the 25 years since NAFTA was negotiated, the trade agreement has not kept pace. “Many chapters are outdated and do not reflect modern standards,” according to the letter. “For example, digital trade was in its infancy when NAFTA was enacted.”
Many stakeholders in the food and agriculture industries have acknowledged that some portions of NAFTA may be improved, but what must be preserved are the enormous benefits NAFTA provides to the food and agriculture sector. Agriculture and trade experts attending the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City convened in Kansas City, Missouri, in February, expressed concerns that NAFTA and free trade principles in general are vulnerable targets in an anti-globalization climate.
Lighthizer said in the letter to Congress that “The United States seeks to support higher-paying jobs in the United States and to grow the US economy by improving US opportunities under NAFTA.” Additionally, the treaty should be modernized to include new regulations to address intellectual property rights, labor and small and medium enterprises, among important topics.
The letter states that the US will begin negotiations with Canada and Mexico “as soon as practicable” but no earlier than 90 days from May 18.