May 18, 2017 / Modified may 18, 2017 4:15 p.m.

NAFTA Renegotiation Could Come as Early as August

Trade official signals administration's intentions; Arizonans watching closely.

North American flags spot NAFTA

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MEXICO CITY - The North American Free Trade Agreement will be up for formal discussion as early as August, as a U.S. trade official on Thursday informed Congress of the administration's intention to renegotiate.

Business and government leaders in Arizona will watch the negotiations closely for what they can do to trade with Mexico, the state’s biggest economic partner. Last year, trade between Arizona and Mexico totaled an estimated $30 billion.

When the U.S. and Mexico made the free-trade deal in the 1990s, negotiations went on for more than a year. Now, officials on both sides say they want to make a new agreement by the end of this year. Luis de la Calle, a Mexican economist who helped broker the original agreement, said the informal deadline could become part of the negotiations.

"I think we can tell the U.S., that, ‘Listen, this will never go through the Mexican Senate, and we have elections in 2018. That's why I cannot process this.’ Which is exactly the sort of argument that the U.S. has always used when Mexico has asked the U.S. for concessions,” de la Calle said.

Some presidential hopefuls here are already campaigning on being stiff trade negotiators.

Canada has its elections in 2019.

Business and government leaders in Arizona will be watching the negotiations closely for what they can do to trade with Mexico, the state’s biggest economic partner.

Fronteras Desk
This story is from the Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of Southwestern public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Fronteras Desk.
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