Government begins 90-day consultation period
The three-member deal, which includes the U.S., Canada and Mexico, has been criticized numerous times by Trump who said it harms the U.S. economy and workers. The government now seeks to reshape and update the two-decade-old agreement.
“NAFTA was negotiated 25 years ago, and while our economy and businesses have changed considerably over that period, NAFTA has not. Many chapters are outdated and do not reflect modern standards," U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer wrote in a letter to the Congress.
Among those standards are digital trade, intellectual property rights, which did not much exist during the 1990s, as well as customs procedures and regulatory practices.
The government's formal notification to Congress provides the administration a 90-day period to consult with lawmakers and American businesses. NAFTA negotiations could begin in August at the earliest.
Approximately 14 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico, according to the Chamber of Commerce.
Before NAFTA was established in 1994, trade between the U.S. and Mexico totaled $52.1 billion. That figure rose to $525 billion last year, according to Census Bureau figures.
Canada reacted swiftly to news of the notice.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement NAFTA was a good deal for the three North American countries, and 9 million American jobs depended on the 23-year-old free trade agreement, according to the Financial Post newspaper.
“NAFTA’s track record is one of economic growth and middle-class job creation, both here in Canada and throughout North America,” Freeland said. “We will continue to consult closely with the (Canadian) provinces and territories, industry, unions, civil society, think tanks, academics, indigenous peoples, women, youth and the general public.”
Freeland earlier announced she would travel to Mexico next week to discuss the renegotiation of NAFTA, the Business News Network reported Wednesday.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said it anticipates Steve Verheul, the architect of the Canadian trade deal with the European Union, would play a key role in the NAFTA talks.