The breakneck pace of North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations does not guarantee a conclusion by year’s end, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Monday during a speech that covered a range of topics — including China’s trade and economic policies, which he claimed the World Trade Organization is unable to manage.
[ Jenny Leonard & Jack Corporal | September 19, 2017 | Daily News]
“We’re moving at warp speed but we don’t know whether we’re going to get to a conclusion; that’s the problem. We’re running very quickly somewhere,” Lighthizer said of the NAFTA talks at a Sept. 18 event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
While “the objective is to finish for a variety of reasons,” he noted the consultation process on the U.S. side is complicated and multi-layered, giving members of Congress “a right to say what the terms are” under the Constitution.
In his remarks about China, Lighthizer said the “one challenge on the current scene that is substantially more difficult than those faced in the past” is the development of Beijing’s industrial and economic policy.
“The sheer scale of their coordinated efforts to develop their economy, to subsidize, to create national champions, to force technology transfers, and to distort markets in China and throughout the world is a threat to the world trading system that is unprecedented,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the World Trade Organization is not equipped to deal with this problem. The WTO and its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, were not designed to successfully manage mercantilism on this scale,” Lighthizer said. “We must find other ways to defend our companies, workers, farmers and indeed our economic system. We must find new ways to ensure that a market-based economy prevails.”