NAFTA: Renegotiation or Modernization, Different Goals?

15 November 2017 Publication
Authors: Andres Alvarez Alejandro Nemo Gomez Strozzi

Alliance Magazine

While the modernization of an agreement implies its renegotiation, a subtle difference in a title may also imply distinct approaches to a negotiating table. The NAFTA renegotiation process is currently facing such a challenge. This article provides an overview of the NAFTA modernization discussions undertaken by Canada, the United States and Mexico, description of the current stance and expectations.

When the discussions about reopening NAFTA for negotiation started, the Mexican administration presented a document to its senate entitled “Mexico’s Priorities in the Negotiations for the Modernization of NAFTA.” A similar formality was undertaken in the United States with a document named “Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA Renegotiation.”

Much has been said and discussed about these documents and their intent to deal with the objectives that each country wants to accomplish during their corresponding negotiation process. The subtle difference in the title of the documents (i.e., renegotiation vs. modernization) and the different approaches and intentions of the negotiation have also been discussed at length; in sum, whether the U.S. wants to “correct” what is being perceived as an unbalanced trade agreement, and Mexico wants to set the groundwork for enhanced, future trade. From the room next door to the negotiating tables, it is reasonable to say that there have been positive developments during the process, but we still have a lot of room to cover.

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