At work in the auto parts production line in the Bosch factory in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. US President Donald Trump has threatened to impose a 35 percent import tariff on companies that ship jobs to Mexico. Photo: AFP, Pedro Pardo

Objectives for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement were released by the Office of the US Trade Representative on Tuesday, emphasizing trade in goods and improving the US trade imbalance with NAFTA countries. The full list of objectives was released on the USTR website.

With regard to industrial goods, the plan highlights non-tariff barriers that “constrain US exports” and the need to strengthen rules of origin, to ensure products’ country of origin is classified accurately.

The objectives also stress the need to further open markets to trade in services, including for telecoms, and financial services.

Ironically, with regard to trade in services, competition policy and labor rights, the objectives align in many ways with those of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal with Asia Pacific countries that was billed as a 21st century upgrade to the WTO. The Trump administration withdrew from the TPP immediately after taking office. The introduction of the NAFTA priorities uses similar rhetoric, proclaiming “the new NAFTA will be modernized to reflect 21st century standards”:

The new NAFTA must continue to break down barriers to American exports. This includes the elimination of unfair subsidies, market-distorting practices by state owned enterprises, and burdensome restrictions of intellectual property. The new NAFTA will be modernized to reflect 21st century standards and will reflect a fairer deal, addressing America’s persistent trade imbalances in North America. It will ensure that the United States obtains more open, equitable, secure, and reciprocal market access, and that our trade agreement with our two largest export markets is effectively implemented and enforced.

Under these objectives, a new NAFTA will give our farmers, ranchers, service providers, and other businesses new opportunities to grow their exports and reclaim American prosperity. But most importantly, the new NAFTA will promote a market system that functions more efficiently, leading to reciprocal and balanced trade among the parties.