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Future of free trade up for negotiation next month; congressmen discuss what's at stake

Implications of NAFTA negotiations discussed at event

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An example of bi-partisan support for the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, was on stage Friday at an event hosted by the San Antonio Chamber and Free Trade Alliance San Antonio.

Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-Dist. 28) and Congressman Will Hurd (R-Dist. 23) both represent districts that include the Texas-Mexico border.

“NAFTA is important to the San Antonio economy, to the Texas economy, and to the U.S. economy,” Cuellar said in an interview.

RELATED: Border community, SA trade alliance continues to support NAFTA 

He said there is $1.3 billion of trade daily between the U.S. and Mexico,” Cuellar said.
Hurd said, “The U.S. economy has improved almost 300 per cent since the negotiation of NAFTA. Let’s continue that.”

In effect since 1994, the future of the free trade agreement is up for negotiation next month.
Yet, after calling it “the worst deal ever,” President Trump has agreed to see how it can be improved.

“All the bad things that were said in the past, are behind us,” said Jose Martinez, president and CEO of Free Trade Alliance San Antonio. “Now, we’re going to have a good negotiation for the benefit of our three countries.”

RELATED: Officials from Mexico and Texas urge state to defend NAFTA

Martinez said some issues need updating such as intellectual property and e-commerce that were not included in the initial agreement.

Concerns also have been raised about how free trade has impacted illegal immigration from Mexico, and job losses in the U.S.

“I think that both parties are going to be able to support, to make sure we have a robust labor market on both sides,” Hurd said.

Cuellar described NAFTA as “a common destiny and trade is going to grow if we do NAFTA 2.0 correctly.” 

The Democratic congressman from Laredo said he’s heard from several free trade-related companies that are hesitant to add jobs and facilities because of the uncertainty over the NAFTA negotiations.  

RELATED: Nation's largest inland port anxious about NAFTA's future

Hurd of San Antonio said that’s also why he hopes Canada acts quickly on its end.

Whatever does come out of the negotiations will need the approval of Mexico and Canada, as well as the U.S. Congress and President Trump.

Martinez said, “He’ll either agree with it or not, and then Congress will agree with it or not.”

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