U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal have started the first round of NAFTA renegotiation in Washington, D.C. with opening statements and an ambitious agenda that is scheduled to take the negotiations through August 20.

In his opening statement, Lighthizer indicated that all the parties acknowledge that the trade agreement needs to be updated and modernized to address economies that are different than when NAFTA was implemented in the 1990s. After addressing modernization, however, he stated, “the tough work begins.” While the agreement has benefited many Americans, Lighthizer added that “for countless Americans, the agreement has failed … We cannot ignore the huge trade deficits, the lost manufacturing jobs, the businesses that have closed or moved because of incentives – intended or not – in the current agreement.”  He also made clear that President Trump is “not interested in a mere tweaking of a few provisions and a couple of updated chapters. We feel that NAFTA has fundamentally failed many, many Americans and needs major improvement.”