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Trump's commercial policy could undermine trade with Latin America

Lima, Nov 19 (IANS) The US trade policy has taken such a drastic turn that it may well affect trade with Latin America, said Sebastian Herreros, the representative for economic affairs of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Herreros told Xinhua news agency in an interview that, according to ECLAC, around 24.9 per cent of the total US exports head to Latin America and the Caribbean while imports from the region account for 19.2 per cent of the total.

“Clearly, the emphasis that was on multilateralism and commitment to free trade and historic precepts of the US trade policy, are now being questioned,” he noted.

“There is a new focus that is far more centered on reducing trade deficits, on bilateralism, and in certain cases, far more protectionist attitudes.”

Among US President Donald Trump’s first measures after taking office was to remove the country from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“A very obvious proof was the U.S. exit from the TPP, the suspension of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the EU and the questions being directed at the World Trade Organization,” he noted.

However, in the region, preoccupation has been centered around the current renegotiation of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“The renegotiation of NAFTA falls under the same logic. It has not been going very well until now and many of the proposals made by the US are really very radical, very difficult for Canada and Mexico to accept,” explained Herreros.

“There is a very strong uncertainty on whether the negotiations will finish safe and sound, and if they do not, what will happen next,” he indicated.

“The US has said that if the new agreement is not satisfactory, it will exit, which would certainly have strong consequences for Mexico and Canada.”

However, Trump’s threats are not limited to North America and has made it clear that other trade deals signed with other countries in the region such as Chile, Colombia and Peru will feel the impact.

According to ECLAC, around 70 per cent of the US imports from Latin America come from Mexico and cover 4,808 products.

The renegotiation of NAFTA and other potential changes to US trade policy could negatively affect trade in the region, ECLAC said.

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