WASHINGTON – The administration of the president of the United States formally notified Congress Thursday of its intention to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The move launches a 90-day consultation period involving Congress, industry groups and US President Donald Trump’s administration, after which time talks with NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico can begin, possibly as soon as mid-August.
“Today, President Trump fulfilled one of his key promises to the American people. For years, politicians have called for the renegotiation of this agreement, but President Trump is the first to follow through with that promise,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.
He added that the agreement was outdated and did not reflect modern standards.
Trump has harshly criticized NAFTA, which was signed by the US, Mexico and Canada in 1992 and took effect in 1994, saying it has destroyed American manufacturing jobs and led to trade deficits with Mexico that total $60 billion annually.
The announcement coincided with a meeting Thursday in Washington involving US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and their Mexican counterparts, Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray and Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, respectively.
Mexico’s Economy Secretariat, meanwhile, issued a statement Thursday reaffirming its willingness to modernize NAFTA so it can meet the challenges of the 21st century.