June 21, 2017 | By: Vicki Needham, Megan R. Wilson and Rafael Bernal.
Trade officials from the three nations will take the lead at the negotiating table, but business leaders are already working to build consensus around possible changes to the agreement.
About 175 companies and groups in the U.S. listed lobbying federal officials on NAFTA from June 2016 through the beginning of this year. Roughly a dozen other entities have recently hired Washington lobbyists, including states, provinces and business groups in Mexico and Canada.
President Trump has called NAFTA “the worst trade deal ever,” and he threatened to ditch the deal before finally agreeing to renegotiate after talking to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
“I don’t think a [Hillary] Clinton administration would have prompted Canadian provinces to hire a lobbyist,” said one lobbyist working on NAFTA negotiations who asked for anonymity to speak freely.
Lobbyists and government negotiators for Canada and Mexico have bristled at Trump’s criticism of NAFTA but say working with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has given them hope about moving forward.
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