Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross plans to start the formal process of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement in coming weeks. "We are now in the very early stages" of having the talks to change NAFTA, he said in a joint press conference with Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Mexico's economic minister.
Under U.S. law, the government must tell Congress 90 days before it signs any new trade agreement. Ross said he wants to take the step of notifying lawmakers "sometime in the next couple of weeks."
The joint press conference showed that Mexico and the United States have yet to agree on how to negotiate NAFTA. Ross Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross wants to keep the option open for the U.S. to hold separate trade talks with each of the stakeholders: Canada and Mexico. "It will either be two parallel bilaterals...or one main trilateral," discussion, Ross said at the press conference in Washington.
Meanwhile, Ildefonso Guajardo doesn't view separate talks as an option. He immediately jumped on the mic after Ross' comment and emphasized that all talks should occur will all three parties present.
"NAFTA is a trilateral agreement...it makes a lot of sense to discuss [the chapters of NAFTA] trilaterally," Guajardo said. Ross did not respond to Guajardo.
The announcement comes just two days after Ross told Bloomberg TV the U.S. government probably won’t begin “real” negotiations to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement until later this year.
“I would like the results tomorrow, but that is not the way the world works,” Ross said, adding he hopes the talks won’t take “substantially longer than a year.” A fragment of the interview is below.
Ross, who was sworn in last month as Commerce secretary, also said in recent days that if the United States and Mexico were able to renegotiate a good trade deal, the beaten-down Mexican peso should really recover.
"I believe that if we and the Mexicans make a very sensible trade agreement the Mexican peso will recover quite a lot," Ross said on CNBC. You can watch the interview here.