A new NAFTA will probably not get done this year. Now what?

Divisions among NAFTA negotiators on complex and controversial issues are driving a stake through the heart of President Donald Trump’s goal of signing a new agreement into law this year.

After nine months of intense negotiating rounds in all three countries, officials remain as far apart as ever on some of the biggest changes the administration has put forward, including ones related to auto manufacturing and Canada and Mexico‘s access to the U.S. government procurement market.

And without major concessions from Canada and Mexico, or a willingness from the U.S. to drop its most difficult demands, top negotiators will be unable this week to wrap up weighty issues that remain unresolved, those close to the talks say.

House Speaker Paul Ryan reiterated Wednesday that the administration would need to notify Congress this week if it wants the current Republican-controlled U.S. Congress to vote on the deal by Continue reading “A new NAFTA will probably not get done this year. Now what?”

China’s schooling Trump on the art of the delay

China may have a winning strategy for any trade war with the U.S.: simply waiting it out.

Beijing’s plan of action following this week’s trade talks with the U.S. is likely to be to take advantage of divergent opinions and mixed messages within the Trump administration, longtime China observers and trade experts say. China hopes that by playing the long game against the U.S., it will be able to gain better concessions on tariffs and trade policies in the future.

Over two days of trade meetings in China that ended Friday, Chinese officials stood firm against demands from some of President Donald Trump’s top economic advisers and laid out strict requests of their own. The result was that the U.S. delegation headed home having made little progress on intractable issues — an outcome that may play right into China’s interests.

“The Chinese are just Continue reading “China’s schooling Trump on the art of the delay”

Trump team makes stern demands on China; China makes its own to U.S.

The U.S. and China proposed seemingly insurmountable demands to each other during two days of meetings in Beijing, but agreed to keep talking in hopes of averting a trade war.

“The gap is wide and deep” between China’s state-run economic model and the free market principles of other countries, said William Zarit, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, which represents U.S. companies operating in the country.

“This will not be reconciled in one or two days,” he said.

The U.S. delegation demanded that China reduce its trade surplus with the U.S. by $200 billion over two years. Other asks were that China stop subsidizing high-tech sectors like robotics and alternative energy vehicles identified in its “Made in China 2025“ plan, cut tariffs on “all products in non-critical sectors” to levels at or below U.S. duties and assure that it would not challenge Continue reading “Trump team makes stern demands on China; China makes its own to U.S.”

Trump trade adviser: All countries exempted from steel tariffs will face quotas

Every country granted an exemption from President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will face an import quota and other restrictions, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Tuesday.

"The guiding principle of this administration, from the president down to his team, is that any country or entity like the European Union, which is exempt from the tariffs, will have a quota and other restrictions," he said at a meeting of steel industry executives hosted by the American Iron and Steel Institute and the Steel Manufacturers Association.

Navarro added such measures "are necessary to defend the aluminum and steel industries from imports in defense of our national security."

The line earned Navarro applause from the steel executives and manufacturers, who support Trump’s steps to restrict the imports under a little-used trade law known as Section 232. Just hours before, Trump had decided to grant Canada, Mexico and Continue reading “Trump trade adviser: All countries exempted from steel tariffs will face quotas”

Trump’s looming tariff deadline puts U.S. allies on edge

President Donald Trump’s long-threatened trade war with close allies could become reality at midnight, sparking huge potential disruptions to global financial markets and supply lines.

With only hours until the deadline, the European Union — the U.S.’ biggest trading partner — as well as Canada and Mexico are awaiting the White House’s high-stakes decision on whether they will face hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum exports to the U.S. or be spared, even on a temporary basis. The decision ultimately lies with Trump — and few people inside the White House or overseas are sure what or even when he will decide.

The countries waiting to hear their fate tonight — a group that also includes Australia, Brazil and Argentina — were granted temporary exemptions last month after Trump imposed duties of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum for national security reasons. The Continue reading “Trump’s looming tariff deadline puts U.S. allies on edge”

White House ‘encouraged’ by Xi speech but seeks ’concrete actions’

The White House welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pledges to further open up his country’s market but stressed that words alone would not stop President Donald Trump from moving forward on possible tariffs on Chinese goods.

“Certainly we are encouraged by President Xi’s words," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters today during a daily press briefing. "But at the same time, we want to see concrete actions from China, and we’re going to continue moving forward in the process and in the negotiations until those things happen.”

The comments come in response to a major speech Xi delivered this morning in China during which he pledged, among other things, to lower tariffs on automobiles, mount a drive to boost imports to the country and strengthen protection of intellectual property.

Sanders said the commitments mark "a step in the right direction" but are not enough to stop Continue reading “White House ‘encouraged’ by Xi speech but seeks ’concrete actions’”

What China’s tariffs mean for the U.S.

The war of tit-for-tat tariffs between the United States and China escalated further on Wednesday when Beijing unveiled a list of U.S. exports worth about $50 billion that it plans to target with a new set of duties.

That move came only hours after President Donald Trump’s administration unveiled its own list of Chinese exports worth roughly the same amount that it plans to target with tariffs, a move meant to punish China for what the White House sees as the theft of intellectual property and forced transfer of valuable technologies.

It also marked the third set of duties announced between the two countries this week, after Beijing announced Sunday it was imposing penalties on $3 billion in U.S. exports on products like pork, recycled aluminum, fruit and wine.

What is actually affected?

The latest set of tariffs unveiled on Wednesday targets more than 100 different U.S. Continue reading “What China’s tariffs mean for the U.S.”

Trump threatens to ‘hold up’ trade deal with S. Korea as leverage in N. Korea talks

President Donald Trump said on Thursday he is considering stalling a newly updated trade agreement with South Korea until the U.S. can to strike a nuclear deal with Seoul’s northern neighbor.

“I may hold it up until after a deal is made with North Korea,” Trump said during a campaign-style speech in Ohio, referring to a new trade agreement in principle that U.S. trade negotiators struck with South Korea earlier this month.

“Does everybody understand that?” he continued. “Because it’s a very strong card, and I want to make sure everyone is treated fairly, and we’re moving along very nicely with North Korea. We’ll see what happens.”

A White House spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for further details on how exactly Trump plans to delay the new agreement, which still has to be signed by both countries and passed by South Korea’s National Continue reading “Trump threatens to ‘hold up’ trade deal with S. Korea as leverage in N. Korea talks”

The world turns on Trump over tariffs

President Donald Trump ratcheted up the economic pressure on the European Union over the weekend, threatening to turn allies into enemies at home and abroad with his trade pronouncements.

The decision to slap hefty tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, which the White House made formal on Thursday, has roiled international markets, angered longtime trading partners and prompted threats from the president’s own party to stop the tariffs through legislation.

At the same time, Trump’s decision to exempt Canada and Mexico and allow other countries to avoid the penalties if they negotiate a deal to address U.S. national security concerns has set off a high-stakes rush among nations eager to avoid the penalties but unclear on what, exactly, the U.S. wants in return.

Trump stoked the fire on Saturday by suggesting even broader tariffs for the EU if they don’t address still-unspecified concerns.

“The European Union, wonderful Continue reading “The world turns on Trump over tariffs”

Trade panel nixes Boeing’s bid for relief against Canadian rival

U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing’s bid for trade relief against a Canadian rival failed on Friday when an independent, bipartisan trade panel blocked the Trump administration from imposing tariffs on imports of certain aircraft from Montreal-based manufacturer Bombardier.

The U.S. International Trade Commission voted unanimously to reject Boeing’s petition, preventing the Trump Commerce Department from slapping duties totaling nearly 300 percent on the Canadian manufacturer’s C-Series aircraft. The decision bucked a Trump administration "America First" concept and handed a win to Canada and to the United Kingdom — two countries where Bombardier employs thousands of people.

The decision caps a closely watched case that Boeing had initially filed in April. The U.S. company argued that Bombardier was using billions of dollars in government subsidies to sell its jets in the United States at prices far below the cost of production — a practice known as dumping. The case Continue reading “Trade panel nixes Boeing’s bid for relief against Canadian rival”

Trump leaves door open to a reworked Pacific Rim deal

President Donald Trump signaled on Friday that he would be interested in negotiating a regional trade deal with the members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership — if the terms of the agreement were changed to benefit the United States.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump acknowledged the U.S. already has bilateral trade relationships with some of the 11 TPP members, adding: “We would consider negotiating with the rest individually or perhaps as a group if it is in the interests of all.”

Trump on Thursday brought up the idea of rejoining a renegotiated TPP for the first time, telling CNBC in Davos that he would sign onto the deal "if we were able to make a substantially better deal." Together, the two comments marked Trump’s first public efforts to entertain the idea of the U.S. entering into some form of regional agreement with Continue reading “Trump leaves door open to a reworked Pacific Rim deal”

U.K.’s May pushes Trump, again, on Bombardier

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May pressed President Donald Trump again Thursday on the importance of Bombardier to the Northern Ireland economy, a day before a final vote in the United States on a closely watched trade case between aircraft manufacturers that could affect jobs there.

A meeting on Thursday between the two world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, began with discussion of the case, with May "reiterating the importance of the company’s jobs in Northern Ireland,” according to a readout of the meeting provided by the U.K. government.

May has previously pressed Boeing to drop the case. In September, she said that she was “bitterly disappointed” by the U.S. Commerce Department’s preliminary decision to impose extremely high tariffs on a line of Bombardier jets. The U.K. maintains that imposing the tariffs could put 4,000 employees at Bombardier’s British operations in Northern Ireland Continue reading “U.K.’s May pushes Trump, again, on Bombardier”

Trump loves farmers but keeps them guessing on NAFTA strategy

President Donald Trump on Monday delivered a campaign-style speech to thousands of farmers that largely dodged one of the most pressing concerns in agriculture — whether Trump intends to blow up the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Farm leaders have lobbied the administration and pleaded with the president to tread carefully in the ongoing renegotiation of the free-trade agreement with Canada and Mexico because the agricultural sector has arguably more to lose than any other segment of the economy if trade relations sour in North America.

Trump, in a speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention in Nashville, Tenn., stopped short of making his oft-repeated threat to pull out of NAFTA if he does not get a reworked deal that is to his liking. But otherwise he offered little assurance to farmers and ranchers who fear the potential loss of important export markets.

“On NAFTA, I’m working Continue reading “Trump loves farmers but keeps them guessing on NAFTA strategy”

It’s the end of the WTO as we know it — and Trump feels fine

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Donald Trump is reshaping the World Trade Organization — by hardly doing a thing.

As the 11th biennial conference of World Trade Organization ministers wrapped up on Wednesday, the U.S.’s presence and the absence of its bully pulpit contributed in no small part to the anticlimactic ending of a four-end summit widely branded as “disappointing,” a number of officials said.

Initially, many attendees convened here harboring a nervous fear that the Trump administration would arrive in Buenos Aires seeking to tear apart the entire global trading system. In the end, U.S. officials dealt no such blow.

Yet, the representatives who spent hours negotiating behind closed doors this week are wondering why they are parting ways having accomplished very little.

“Ministers said that it was like having 164 children in a family,” Susana Malcorra, who chaired the talks, said at a closing press conference Continue reading “It’s the end of the WTO as we know it — and Trump feels fine”

It’s the end of the WTO as we know it — and Trump feels fine

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Donald Trump is reshaping the World Trade Organization — by hardly doing a thing.

As the 11th biennial conference of World Trade Organization ministers wrapped up on Wednesday, the U.S.’s presence and the absence of its bully pulpit contributed in no small part to the anticlimactic ending of a four-end summit widely branded as “disappointing,” a number of officials said.

Initially, many attendees convened here harboring a nervous fear that the Trump administration would arrive in Buenos Aires seeking to tear apart the entire global trading system. In the end, U.S. officials dealt no such blow.

Yet, the representatives who spent hours negotiating behind closed doors this week are wondering why they are parting ways having accomplished very little.

“Ministers said that it was like having 164 children in a family,” Susana Malcorra, who chaired the talks, said at a closing press conference Continue reading “It’s the end of the WTO as we know it — and Trump feels fine”

Trump’s disdain casts unease over World Trade Organization summit

Trump’s disdain casts unease over World Trade Organization summit

Trump’s NAFTA goals draw from TPP, campaign pledges

The Trump administration today released long-awaited goals for renegotiating NAFTA, borrowing heavily from the discarded Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and putting a strong emphasis on reducing the bilateral trade deficits with Canada and Mexico.

“Too many Americans have been hurt by closed factories, exported jobs, and broken political promises,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement released along with the goals. “Under President [Donald] Trump’s leadership, USTR will negotiate a fair deal.”

The administration’s decision to target the trade gaps with Mexico and Canada as a negotiating goal is a significant departure from past practices. It is also one that may be hard to achieve, since many economists argue the deficit is driven by macroeconomic factors, rather the provisions of trade agreements.

However, it reflects Trump’s apparent belief that the United States’ $63.2 billion deficit with Mexico and $10.9 billion deficit with Canada are signs Continue reading “Trump’s NAFTA goals draw from TPP, campaign pledges”

U.S. governors are wooed on NAFTA — by Canada and Mexico

Providence, R.I. — President Donald Trump has vowed he’ll pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement if he doesn’t get the changes he wants. So Canada and Mexico have found a workaround: reach out directly to U.S. governors, local lawmakers and industry leaders in a bid to save NAFTA.

Canadian Cabinet and Parliament officials have held more than 170 meetings with senior U.S. officials in 23 states between Inauguration Day and the end of last month. They’re focusing on big cities, coastal states, and Rust Belt towns throughout Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania with economies that rely on cross-border trade.

And in Mexico, an extensive private-sector effort has been underway pairing up major U.S. industry groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers with their Mexican counterparts to ensure that organizations in both countries are on the same page.

The Continue reading “U.S. governors are wooed on NAFTA — by Canada and Mexico”

Governors steer clear of Trump

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Vice President Mike Pence spent much of his afternoon address to the nation’s governors on Friday making sure they know how much Donald Trump loves them. But a majority of the state leaders gathered here this week spent much of their three-day summer meeting pretending the president doesn’t exist.

When a group of seven Democratic governors stood in front of a cramped hotel meeting room Friday morning to decry the GOP’s health care plan, for all 30 minutes they avoided saying the polarizing words “Donald Trump.”

Just hours later, the independent governor of Alaska spent the better part of a conversation over a cup of coffee extolling the virtues of administration officials from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt without ever mentioning the president by name.

And in the halls of the Rhode Island Convention Center and surrounding hotels, Republican, Democratic, and Continue reading “Governors steer clear of Trump”