Trade Renegotiation Deadline Set

Senator Chuck Grassley (WHO-HD)

Negotiators from Canada are back in Washington this week to resume talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The U.S. is pushing for an agreement with Canada after reaching one with Mexico. They are setting a deadline of Friday, which would be 90 days before the outgoing Mexican President’s term ends.

Under Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), the administration has to notify Congress 90 days before sending an agreement for consideration. TPA gives the president power to negotiate deals that Congress can pass or reject but not amend.

President Trump is threatening to leave Canada out of final renegotiated NAFTA deal and replace it with a bilateral deal with Mexico. But it is unclear how Congress could legally react under TPA, specifically because Trump told Congress last year he was renegotiating not making bilateral deals.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley was asked if bilateral deals can replace NAFTA under current TPA, “It can’t outlaw all bilateral negotiations because presumably, this administration is starting some bilateral negotiations.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation also questions if the administration can legally give Congress a 90-day notification of a partial deal.

Dave Salmonsen with AFBF says, “Do all the parties have to be involved, can you notice one, then another one? Canada come in a little later and still fulfill the requirements? So, that’s something that will keep the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee trade counsels and the administration and all of us busy trying to figure out.”