Fear continues to grow among Mexican and Canadian officials as well among a large number of South Texas businesses regarding a possible U.S. withdrawal from North American Free Trade Agreement as negotiations continue.
Sergio Contreras, president of the Rio Grande Valley's chamber of commerce, said much of the business in his region has already slowed down, anticipating what could be an end to the almost 25 year old trade agreement.
“Right now there has been certain entities that have stalled or slowed their investment until there is certainty on an international agreement," Contreras said.
Contreras said NAFTA has been an essential factor in efforts to grow business not only in the Rio Grande Valley but also throughout the entire state.
This week, the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce sent U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer a letter urging him to preserve NAFTA with the appropriate revisions that modernize the agreement.
The international agreement was created during the Clinton administration to eliminate barriers to trade and investment between Canada, Mexico and the U.S. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, 40 percent or $90 billion of the goods Texas businesses export go to Mexico. Texas refineries also receive heavy crude oil from Canadian pipelines.
Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, is one of many Texas lawmakers on Capitol Hill monitoring the ongoing negotiations. Mexican and Canadian officials asked him to help convince President Donald Trump and White House negotiators not to pull out of the NAFTA agreement.
“They’ll tell you they are starting to get worried that President Trump will file the notice to withdraw," Cuellar said.
This week’s meeting makes the sixth round of trade talks since President Trump threatened last year to walk away from the agreement if he didn’t achieve a “better deal” for the U.S.