What happens next for North American trade talks? It’s not just Canadians and Mexicans who’d like to know. So would members of the United States Congress, who actually have a legal role in trade talks.
The American law allowing fast-track approval for trade deals sets out two necessary steps involving lawmakers: first, the president must give Congress 90 days’ notice before entering into negotiations, then must consult members.
The Canadian Press surveyed key lawmakers in an attempt to gauge the next steps. It did so this week because the U.S. Senate approved Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary — and Ross will be involved in NAFTA negotiations, says President Donald Trump.
It found uncertainty.
The confusion stems partly from the fact that it’s neither Ross’s legal role to lead trade negotiations, nor to consult Congress. Those responsibilities fall to another cabinet member — the U.S. trade representative.
But Ross’s colleague is having a rough time getting confirmed. Robert Lighthizer’s approval as U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) could be delayed for months, amid partisan stalling and because past legal work for foreign governments means he needs a special waiver from Congress.
To top it all off, the U.S. Senate committee tasked to deal with trade is currently slammed with major projects — the biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 41 years, and reforms to the Obamacare health system.
So what might happen now?
Read the whole article on The Financial Post