MONTREAL, Canada—The sixth round of negotiations on Nafta, the North American Free Trade Agreement, is underway in Montreal. Canada and Mexico made news as the talks opened by announcing a separate free trade deal, a newly revived Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 nations in the Pacific Rim. Withdrawing the US from that deal was one of President Donald Trumps’s first acts in office.
Mr Trump said the Nafta talks are going “pretty well,” but he has also said that he will withdraw the United States from Nafta should he feel that not enough progress has been made. Those two statements are framing discussions by delegates from Canada and Mexico who are bracing for the next move by the US.
As a border state, Vermont has a high stake in the outcome. From auto parts to food to apparel, Vermont manufacturers have leveraged Nafta to export their products to Canada and Mexico duty-free as part of an integrated North American economy.
In Vermont, business people like Jean-Marc Landry who depend on duty-free access across Nafta’s borders are watching events unfold in Montréal. He manufactures an automatic braking system that is added to a wheelchair to keep them in place when a patient stands up.
“One of the problems that we have with the wheelchair is that they kind of roll away,” as he explained the genesis of his technology.