WASHINGTON — Top trade officials from the United States, Mexico and Canada were to meet in Dallas, Texas Monday to discuss trade, labor and environmental issues under the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement Thursday that he will host Mexico's Secretary of the Economy Gerardo Ruiz Mateos and Canadian Trade Minister Stockwell Day for talks on "ways to ensure that the benefits of our trilateral trade and economic relationship are widely shared and sustainable."
The 1994 NAFTA trade pact created the largest trading bloc in the world by eliminating import tariffs on goods circulating among partners Canada, the United States and Mexico.
During last year's election campaign, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama sometimes criticized the 15-year old trade pact which has been derided by US labor and left-of-center groups as being environmentally unfriendly and harmful to the interests of the average working American.
But supporters say NAFTA has tripled the volume of annual trade among the three member nations from 297 billion dollars when it entered into force in 1994 to 941 billion dollars today.
Obama hinted on the campaign trail last year that he might renegotiate NAFTA to include greater labor and environmental safeguards, but Canada and Mexico have expressed wariness at the prospect of reopening trade negotiations.
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