Uncertainty over the renegotiating of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could lead to trade losses for the U.S. Last week, June 27-29, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) held a series of public hearings about the NAFTA renegotiations. Agricultural representatives continued to emphasize the importance of a reaching an agreement that will not disrupt agricultural trade to Canada or Mexico.

Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., criticized the USTR for asking for public input on renegotiation objectives. He called it unusual for the USTR to still be determining why it is undergoing these negotiations at this stage. Pascrell urged the USTR to seize this opportunity to show leadership in global trade, and to undertake the task with the utmost possible transparency.

“Now that the administration has begun the process for renegotiating NAFTA, Congress and the American people need clarity regarding the administration’s intentions, its objectives, and the scope and structure of the effort,” Pascrell said.

It is not just the American people who need clarity from the USTR, but our trade partners as well. If NAFTA is not renegotiated properly, then other countries may have an easier time expanding their shares in Canada and Mexico.

Qiu Xiaoqi, China’s ambassador to Mexico, has expressed willingness to negotiate a free trade agreement with Mexico. No discussions have been held yet, but Qiu has said a trade exchange would be favorable to both countries and there are no complications on China’s side going forward. The two countries have been strengthening ties ever since the U.S. left the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

With NAFTA renegotiations not expected to begin until mid-August, it’s vital that the U.S. remove any uncertainty surrounding the outcome—trade partners must be assured that the U.S. is still willing to work with them, or they may seek allies elsewhere.

To watch the recordings of the USTR hearings, click here.