If there is one thing that negotiators from the United States, Mexico and Canada agree on, it is that NAFTA should be updated and improved to the mutual benefit of the three partners. The question is how to do so. To grapple with that question, the University of California and Tecnológico de Monterrey, the largest not-for-profit private university in Mexico, in partnership with the Progressive Policy Institute and COMEXI (the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations), convened a gathering of high-level North American government and business leaders, diplomats and trade scholars at the university’s Washington, D.C. conference center on September 21, 2017. Negotiators from the U.S., Mexico and Canada convened in Washington on October 11th to resume talks on modernizing and strengthening the 1994 North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The impetus for these talks comes from
President Trump, who has fiercely criticized NAFTA and is demanding changes aimed at reducing U.S. trade deficits and “bringing back” U.S. manufacturing jobs. The Trump Administration wants to wrap up an agreement on a modified treaty by the end of the year.
That’s an ambitious timetable, considering the White House’s lengthy list of negotiating objectives — and concerns in Canada and Mexico that President Trump views trade as a zero-sum game. The unspoken question hovering over the talks is this: Can Trump find a way for America to “win” in trade without Mexico and Canada losing?