U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration says it has notified Congress it intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.
In a letter sent Thursday to congressional leaders, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the administration plans 90 days of consultations with lawmakers over how to rewrite the agreement followed by negotiations with Canada and Mexico that could begin after August 16.
Renegotiation of NAFTA was a key promise of Trump’s during his presidential campaign, when he frequently called the treaty a “disaster.”
Lighthizer told reporters NAFTA has helped strengthen the U.S. agriculture, investment services and energy sectors, but it has hurt U.S. factories and resulted in well-paying manufacturing jobs being sent to Mexico.
Lighthizer said in the letter that NAFTA needs to be updated to more effectively address matters involving digital trade, intellectual property rights and labor and environmental standards.
At a news conference Thursday at the State Department with Mexican officials and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other U.S. officials, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said Mexico “welcomes” the renegotiation of NAFTA.
“We understand that this is a 25-year-old agreement when it was negotiated,” Videgaray said. “The world has changed. We’ve learned a lot and we can make it better.”
Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement, “Since the signing of NAFTA, we have seen our manufacturing industry decimated, factories shuttered, and countless workers left jobless. President Trump is going to change that.”
VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching contributed to this report