The Latest: NAFTA critic calls Trump plans "markedly vague"
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WASHINGTON — The Latest on the Trump administration's plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada (all times local):
A prominent critic of U.S. trade agreement calls the administration's plans "markedly vague."
Lori Wallach, director of the Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, says NAFTA needs a complete overhaul. "Modest tweaks will not stop NAFTA's ongoing damage, much less deliver on (President Donald) Trump's promises for a deal that will create American jobs and raise wages," she says.
She worries that a revamped NAFTA will include provisions left over from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement between the U.S., Mexico and 10 other Pacific Rim countries negotiated by the Obama administration and thrown out by Trump.
Chrystia Freeland, Canada's foreign affairs minister, says renegotiating the trade pact "offers us an opportunity to determine how we can best align NAFTA to new realities — and integrate progressive, free and fair approaches to trade and investment. We are steadfastly committed to free trade in the North American region and to ensuring that the benefits of trade are enjoyed by all Canadians."
She also defended the trade agreement: "NAFTA's track record is one of economic growth and middle-class job creation, both here in Canada and throughout North America."
The Mexican government says it "welcomes" the opportunity to renegotiate NAFTA.
In a statement, it says: "We reaffirm our willingness to update the agreement in order to successfully address the challenges of the 21st century. Our countries deserve a modern instrument to regulate our trading and economic relationship."
The Mexican government also says that NAFTA "has been of immense benefit to all parties. We look forward to a constructive process to increase our economic
U.S. congressional leaders promise to work closely with the Trump administration to renegotiate NAFTA.
"Congress and the administration must work hand-in-hand if we are to achieve the high-standard trade agreements our country needs to grow," says Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
"We look forward to working with the administration to strengthen the agreement in a seamless way and ensure that we retain the current benefits for American workers, farmers and businesses," says Texas Republican Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer sent a letter to congressional leaders Thursday, starting 90 days of consultations with lawmakers over how to revamp the 23-year-old pact. Talks with Canada and Mexico can begin after that. The two-page letter offers few details about what changes the administration would seek. President Donald Trump has called NAFTA a "disaster" that has wiped out American factory jobs.