NAFTA opening speeches: an overview

Canada, Mexico and the US set their positions as NAFTA talks begin

Robert Lighthizer (left), Ildefonso Guajardo (center) and Chrystia Freeland I(right), during NAFTA talks yesterday – Photo: AP and REUTERS
English 17/08/2017 11:03 Washington Víctor Sancho e Ivette Saldaña - Corresponsal y enviada Actualizada 11:55

US: NAFTA has failed Americans

Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Trade Representative and leader of the American Team for the improvement talks of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), said yesterday was a “historic day” for the US, because for the first time they are “going to start negotiating to revise a major free trade agreement” which “has failed” millions of American citizens.

The stance of the US is clear: one of the campaign promises of President Trump – to radically modify NAFTA or leave the agreement altogether – has to be fulfilled in the same aggressive fashion with which Trump spoke during his campaign.

The United States claims their main goal is to reduce the trade deficit caused by NAFTA, particularly with Mexico.

Mexico: It will be successful if we all benefit from it

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) “won't be a deal” if it doesn't work for the three partners, said the Mexican Secretary of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo, during his opening speech.

With a moderate and constructive tone, the leader of the Mexican Team said he shares the desire of his counterparties to improve NAFTA to move forwards, and that Mexico has no intention of returning to the past.

In his opening five-minute speech, Guaardo – who was also a member of the original NAFTA negotiating team – said Mexico has a  proactive and constructive attitude towards interests and goals “without risking what has been achieved as a region”.

Canada: Deficits are no measures of success

The Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, Chrystia Freeland, said during the first talk of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that contrary to the United States, Canada doesn't measure how a trading relationship works based on “surpluses or deficits”, and while she mentioned that the trade relationship between the United States and Canada has become "almost perfectly reciprocal", her speech resounded with words of unity and mutual interests.

“Strong economic fundamentals are a compelling argument for bolstering what works and improve what can be made better,” Freeland said during a trilingual speech (English, French, and Spanish) in which she highlighted the interest and good will of Canada to achieve a “modernized” agreement during the “historic project" they are embarking on.

Canda doesn't see trade as a "zero-sum-game,” she added, telling all the attendants that her country has always pursued a “free and just" trade.