Presidential elections in Mexico in July and US congressional elections in November are rushing the NAFTA negotiations.

Article by Oso Oseguera.

The next few weeks could be the most consequential for global trade since the final negotiations in December of 1993 that led to the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Depending on the outcome, the United States and the world could begin the serious work needed to find new trade arrangements that acknowledge the relative waning of U.S. economic power and the rise of the rest. Or this month could mark the unraveling of the rules that have shaped global commerce for the past quarter century.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has been explicit that the goal of the NAFTA talks is to negotiate a “rebalanced” agreement that will do more to favor the United States. President Trump last week told Chinese President Xi Jinping that the large U.S. trade deficit with China is “not sustainable.”

The administration seems unfortunately captured by the president’s own nostalgia for the #MAGA era when U.S. economic power was such that it could throw its weight around unilaterally and other countries had no choice but to cooperate.

That nostalgia was captured in the astonishing statement by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office that the United States had “erred in supporting China’s entry into the WTO on terms that have proven to be ineffective in securing China’s embrace of an open, market-oriented trade regime.”

Mexico’s economy minister, Ildefonso Guajardo, urged officials to push for a speedy renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying his country and Canada must be ready to go it alone if the United States pulls out, as reported by Reuters.

In Mexico, Manuel Valencia, an international relations professor at Tec de Monterrey, said that the three countries are in a rush to conclude the negotiations before the political clock starts.

The Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said if no deal to rework NAFTA could be struck by April 30th, then the new political complexion of the region would cast doubt on how incoming lawmakers would view it in Mexico and the US.

The regular session of Congress in Mexico ends on April 30, and the country will elect a new president in July who takes office at the start of December. The United States will hold mid-term congressional elections in November.

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