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NAFTA Talk Probably Won’t Start Until 2018

Commerce secretary predicts a slow start, but any changes could affect Texas.

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Photo by Brandi Simons/Getty Images

If a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement is to occur, Mexico and Canada would like it to start soon, but Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Bloomberg yesterday that negotiations likely won’t begin until late this year and not get serious until 2018.

“I would like the results tomorrow, but that is not the way the world works,” Ross said Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg Television. He said it probably will be “the latter part of this year before real negotiations get under way.”

Ross also said the United States has been in a “trade war” for decades. He said the Trump administration, however, will come into the new talks with a “big bazooka” that probably won’t have to be used.

The prospects of renegotiating NAFTA or adopting a Border Adjusted Tax as a tariff on imports has many Texas businesses nervous. The state is the largest exporter in the United States to Mexico. Out of $232 billion in exports from Texas in 2016, $92 billion went to Mexico, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

But there also is a round-robin trade going on. Independent auto parts manufactures located at the Toyota plant in San Antonio ship parts to Toyota assembly plants in Mexico, and then the vehicles return to the United States as completed vehicles. The same occurs in some electronics manufacturing.

The Trump administration has indicated the possibility of specifically targeting the auto companies for import tariffs, and Mexico has hinted that it will retaliate if a trade war develops. The likely targets of Mexican tariffs would be Texas-grown corn and beef.

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    Isn’t it convenient that they won’t get around to NAFTA until the next election year? That will allow them to make all kinds of claims and statements during the voting but put off anything that will have any serious impact (especially on Texas) until after the voting. Timing is everything…

    • John Johnson

      Well, I guess “they”put healthcare and taxes and budget in front of trade issue.
      If trade was at the forefront and healthcare got pushed back, you would be squealing about that. You are a perpetual squealer. Admit it. You are going to moan and grown every step of the way, aren’t you?

      • WUSRPH

        “On my first day in office.”

  • donuthin2

    Yup, we corn farmers and ranchers are a smart bunch for sure. We voted for the trumpster and didn’t have a clue what it would do to us.


    Speaking of getting off to a slow start. Here is the record of Trump’s first 50 days…..one less EO than Obama and no significant legislation….Obama had two by now……He really hit the ground running….to the golf course.



    Trump, like most presidents, likes to put the blame for anything bad that happens in the early part of his term on his predecessor. “I inherited a mess. A real mess, I tell you”….But he’s very good at claiming credit for things that began under his predecessor. A prime example is the way that he is taking credit for the jobs and unemployment figures. What is particularly noticeable is the fact that he is now proclaiming the 240,000 new jobs figures as being so great when less than three months ago he was declaring that any number less than 300,000 jobs per month was “bad” and threatened to put the economy into a recession. Similarly, his administration is so happy with unemployment figures when just a few months ago Trump were declaring were fraudulent and claiming that “real” (i.e.–in his mind) unemployment was close to 42%. I guess sitting behind the big desk in the Oval Office in between his Florida trips gives you a different perspective on such things.


    Some people accuse all politicians of being hypocrites. I doubt that is true of all of them, but if
    you wanted to see a prime example of political hypocrisy in action you need
    look no farther than last Tuesday’s public hearing by the Texas Senate’s State
    Affairs Committee on Lt. Gov. Patrick’ “bathroom bill” to ban local ordinances
    protecting the rights of sexual transgenders.

    The hearing lasted 13 hours, hearing from dozens of
    witnesses—most of whom opposed the bill—and ended with an after midnight vote
    of 7 to 1 to report the bill and send it to the Full Senate for its
    consideration. All of this was, of
    course, a prime example of the hypocrisy of holding a “public hearing” in order
    to consider what the public feels about a measure.

    The hypocrisy arises from the fact that there was never any
    question that, despite the hours of testimony, that the Committee would do just
    what it did—approve the bill by an overwhelming majority. That was clear long before the bill was even
    filed for consideration by the Legislature.
    The bill was, as they say in the legislature, “greased”….it had already
    been declared the “prove you’re a Good Christian” bill of the session…it had
    received the spiritual blessing of the lt. governor, a majority of the Senate
    had signed on as co-authors and the panel that considered it had been carefully
    stacked to automatically approve it.
    Everyone—with the possible exception of a couple of naïve citizens—knew
    it……Nothing was going to be changed by the hours of testimony by hundreds of
    people who had come to Austin to be heard, some perhaps even believing—or wanting
    to believe—that it could make a difference.
    Jesus could have appeared in the chamber to oppose the bill and, at
    most, it might have changed one or two votes.
    But on and on they went through the long hours of hypocrisy, knowing all
    the time that it was all a charade and in the process proving the truth of the old
    Capitol joke about the only thing wrong with a public hearing is that you have
    to hear from the public.

    All of this is not new, of course. It happens every session on bills blessed by
    his holiness the lieutenant governor in his role as Texas’ Number One
    Christian. In fact, something similar
    had already happen with the “Sanctuary Cities” bill earlier in the session and it
    will happen again probably a couple of more times during the session—most
    likely on his bill to divert taxpayers funds from the public schools to private
    and church-run institutions and to the wallets of homeschooling parents.

    But should it?
    Wouldn’t it be more honest for a committee like State Affairs when it is
    to hear a bill like this one to announce beforehand that the witnesses should
    not waste either their or the committee members’ time. Shouldn’t they get it over quickly and not
    drag out the inevitable. Why not tell the
    truth so that the public will not wind
    up wasting its time coming to the Capitol for a hearing where their presence is
    just a sidelight to a predetermined outcome?

    Why not end the hypocrisy and have the Senate change its
    rules to provide for publishing the words “Passage Pre-determined” next to the bill
    the official notice of the hearing. This could be kind of a “consent calendar”
    for the committee. The committee could then
    vote on bills with that distinction at the beginning of the meeting so that its
    important time could be spent on matters on which there is some question. Of course, the easiest way, would be not to
    waste the time on a hearing at all…and just to automatically send bills like
    this one to the Senate Floor without even pretending to have a “public hearing”. Think about it.

    • WUSRPH

      The House State Affairs Committee will have its version of a day-long hearing on Wednesday when it takes up the Sanctuary Cities bill. Whether its outcome is also pre-ordained is not known at this time.

  • John Bernard Books

    ex-Speaker Pelosi joins with Speaker Paul Ryan and tells Americans “we must pass the bill so we can find out what is in it”……


    An important development in the Court ruling finding 3 congressional districts invalid under the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution is the fact that the judges held that the creation of the districts had both the effect AND the intent of making it harder for Hispanics to be elected. The important point is the “intent” because, if upheld by higher courts, that could serve as grounds to being Texas back under the “pre-clearance” requirements of the VRA and give it tougher standards to meet when it redistricts two years from now. That is not as important as it would have been under a US Dept. of Justice headed by someone other than Jeff Sessions, but it will still make it harder to gerrymander the state. The immediate effect on the three districts is less clear, but, assuming the decision is upheld, it could force the legislature to redistrict for the 2108 elections only to do it again for the 2021.

    • SpiritofPearl

      I’m hoping Lloyd Doggett will be restored as my congressman.

      • John Johnson

        He’s perfect for Austin.

        • WUSRPH

          Says you…..Personally I’m not “pure” enough for him.

    • Jed

      “The important point is the “intent” because, if upheld by higher courts, that could serve as grounds to being Texas back under the “pre-clearance” requirements of the VRA and give it tougher standards to meet when it redistricts two years from now.”

      that might have been true before trump got control of the court. this will be another casualty of the clinton defeat. the voter suppression is only going to get worse.

      • WUSRPH

        He hasn’t gotten control of it yet…….

        • Jed

          essentially, he has. where it splits 4-4, it won’t reverse the lower court.

          on which side do you think the 5th circuit is going to weigh in on all this?

          • WUSRPH

            It depends on which panel at the court gets it. If Madam Jones is on it…Texas will be praised for keeping “those people” out of public office…..But the panel that heard the voter ID case seemed much more sympathetic to a finding of “intent”. In fact, didn’t it tell the trial court to decide whether that had happened?

          • Jed

            they may uphold this latest decision, but i’ll eat my hat if the 5th circuit goes on to call for texas to be put back into preclearance status (i think they call that “bail in”?).


    Asking the last Administration’s US attorney pick to resign when the White House changes is not that unusual. The demand for the resignation of the last 46 holdovers from Obama may have been a little brusque, but it is within normal practices. However, that is not likely to keep Democratic equivalents of the GOP conspiracy theorists from suggesting that it was done to make sure that none of them started any investigations in the Trump campaign, etc. But then some people could not live without their conspiracy of the day.


    Today’s history quiz:
    What is important about the date of April 6th (don’t google)? And why is no one apparently paying attention to it?

    • John Johnson

      It’s been all over Twitter. Pay attention.

      • WUSRPH

        I don’t twitter.

    • BCinBCS

      Only thing that I can think is it’s when the U.S. entered WWI.