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Commerce Sec Wilbur Ross aims to start formal NAFTA renegotiation process in the next few weeks

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Friday he hopes to start the formal process of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement in coming weeks.

Under U.S. law, the government must tell Congress 90 days before it signs any new trade agreement. Ross said he wants to take the step of notifying lawmakers "sometime in the next couple of weeks."

"We are now in the very early stages" of having the talks to change NAFTA, he said in a joint press conference with Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Mexico's economic minister.

President Donald Trump has aimed to quickly make good on his campaign promises, including scrapping or tweaking trade deals he deems bad for the United States. The president has slammed NAFTA, and Mexico's role in it in particular, saying it has sapped manufacturing jobs from the U.S.

The administration has suggested it will try to seek bilateral trade deals rather than those with several nations. Ross said a revised NAFTA will either be two bilateral agreements with Mexico and Canada with "symmetrical provisions" or "one new" deal among the three countries.

Guajardo seemed more set on talks talking place among the three countries.

"NAFTA is a trilateral agreement and it would make a lot of sense to have trilateral discussions," he said. He added that Mexico will be ready to start negotiations by the end of May.

Mexico and Canada are two vital trading partners for the U.S., partly due to NAFTA, which has been in place for more than two decades. Ross said the deal "needs an update" and has not necessarily adapted to changes in the three nations' economies.