Just Style | 4 October 2017
US wants to update Latin America pacts next after NAFTA
By Michelle Russell
The US needs to shift its focus to updating free trade agreements with countries in Latin America, the country’s Trade Representative office has said, once NAFTA renegotiations are complete.
Speaking in Florida this week at Governor Rick Scott’s Latin America Summit, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer pointed to the need to modernise agreements with Peru, Colombia, Panama and Chile, as well as the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
Lighthizer highlighted digital trade as an area that needs improvement, as well as trade facilitation, according to Inside Trade.
"We have to make it easier for sales to happen and products to ship back and forth," he said. "There’s still a fair amount of inefficiency just in that process, and smaller countries tend to be less efficient than bigger countries...There’s a whole trade facilitation process that has to go on."
Legal standards was also an area Lighthizer said needed a lot of focus, with a call for "less corruption." Less certainty, Lighthizer said, means less investment, making it "very difficult" to ensure long-term trade benefits.
Yet the Trade Representative also made it clear that abandoning deals must be an option in cases where trade negotiations are "clearly going nowhere."
"I think this President will walk away from deals and I guarantee you that I will," Lighthizer said, adding that while it would be "very disruptive" to walk away from agreements like NAFTA, "if we don’t get a good deal" the US will have no choice.
The third round of NAFTA talks concluded in Canada last weekend, with the fourth scheduled for 11-15 October in Washington. But while significant progress was claimed by the three partners, concerns remain that they won’t be able to conclude negotiations by the end of the year.