The Trump Administration’s goal to reduce trade deficits by renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement is not a good one. That’s the opinion of former top Obama-era trade negotiator Darci Vetter.
The Capital Press says Vetter feels that goal may cause unforeseen and unintentional consequences for farm exports. Vetter was the chief U.S. agricultural trade negotiator from 2014 until January of this year. She spoke to delegates at the U.S. Grain Council’s annual meeting, saying that using NAFTA to close trade gaps with Canada and Mexico could snare farm exports in trade disputes. “Personally, I think it’s a misguided objective for a trade agreement,” Vetter says: “I don’t believe the trade deficit is a way of measuring whether or not we’re winning or losing on trade.”
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer listed deficit reduction as the administration’s number one goal in the negotiations. Vetter says the administration’s goals are “mostly okay.” Some of the goals include maintaining tariff-free trade for farm goods and reducing trade barriers through faster ways of solving food safety disputes. She says the president’s position on trade deficits suggests the negotiations won’t be done this year. Vetter says, “What we have during this negotiating period is uncertainty, and uncertainty is costly.”