Trump: Ross to lead accelerated NAFTA talks

Excerpt from: NASCO Network  |  By: Tiffany Melvin  |  February 02, 2017

Wilbur Ross, President Trump’s pick for Commerce secretary, will lead accelerated talks with Mexico and Canada on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, Trump said today.

Meeting with the leaders of the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance committee at the White House and flanked by Ross and other senior trade advisers, Trump decried NAFTA as a “catastrophe” and declared “I want to change it.”

Praising what he called an “all-star team of top-level people that are working on trade,” Trump said Ross is “going to be representing us in negotiations” along with “other great people.”

More from Trump:

“We are working very hard, and will be very soon, as soon as we get the go ahead, we have the 90-day period that we have to think about but we want to get that whole thing kick-started and going.

We have some statutory limits, and we don’t have to have those statutory limits so it’s very important. I have very serious concerns about NAFTA. NAFTA’s been a catastrophe for our country, it’s been a catastrophe for our workers and jobs and our companies that are leaving our country. I want to change it. And maybe we do it.

Maybe we do a new NAFTA, and we put an extra F in the term NAFTA. You know what the F is for, right? Free and fair trade. Not just free trade. Free and fair trade. Because it’s very unfair.”

A White House pool report quotes Trump as saying “all of the statutory guidelines we’re adherering to I would like to speed it up if possible.

I don’t care if it’s a renovation of NAFTA or a brand-new NAFTA but we do have to make it fair and it’s very unfair to the American worker and very very unfair to companies,” he said.

Of Ross, Trump said he was “one of the greats. And he’s fair, and he’s fair to other countries – will be fair to other countries. And I think we’re going to have a whole new picture by the time we’re finished.”

Senator Orrin Hatch after the meeting with Trump…
Here is Hatch’s official statement.

Hatch Statement on White House Trade Meeting

Bipartisan Leaders of the Senate Finance, House Ways & Means Committees Discuss the Modernization of NAFTA and How to Advance American Trade Priorities with President Trump

WASHINGTON – Following a meeting today at the White House with President Trump and the leaders of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees regarding the Trump Administration’s interest in modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico and advancing a strong bilateral trade agenda on behalf of the American people, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) issued the following statement:

“I appreciate President Trump’s focus on advancing a strong trade agenda on behalf of the American people, including ideas to modernize NAFTA. NAFTA has served as a strong anchor for our markets in the northern hemisphere and helped to expand trade opportunities for American products, goods, and services. 

Given that the trade pact is now more than two decades old, a re-examination of the agreement to ensure it remains the best possible deal for American workers and entrepreneurs in the 21st century global economy makes sense.

Ultimately, major shifts in policy are decisions that should made with the consultation of Congress which, under the U.S. Constitution, has authority over tariffs. To that end, I appreciated the opportunity to talk with President Trump and discuss the path forward on our trade agenda.”