The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been setting the rules of commerce between the United States, Mexico and Canada since 1994.

It covers issues like food safety, intellectual property rights and dispute settlements, and since it was signed, trade between the three countries more than tripled.

However, US President Donald Trump calls it "the worst trade deal in history", blaming it for the loss of manufacturing jobs in the US.

He has initiated talks to rewrite those rules which govern a quarter of the global economy.

[NAFTA] is a deal that has provided benefits to different places and different markets in different sectors.... It's challenging to argue that one country has gotten more or less than others.

Deborah Elms, Asia Trade Center

Trump wants to reduce the country's large trade deficit with Mexico. Mexico exports goods to the US worth nearly $63bn more than it imports.

He pushes for a better balance of trade with Canada by calling for greater access for US dairy products. And he wants to take on the auto industry, and force companies to use more US-manufactured components - a move car companies say will make them less able to compete internationally.

Trump wants to complete the NAFTA talks by 2018, before elections in Mexico and midterms in the US.

So what's next for NAFTA and what are the implications for Mexico, Canada and the US?

Deborah Elms of the Asia Trade Center, believes that NAFTA as it currently stands has been a success overall.

"All of the parties have been able to get different kinds of benefits and this is something the business communities in all three countries are really careful to point out," says Elms.

"Across the board for over 20 years, this is a deal that has provided benefits to different places and different markets in different sectors in Canda, the US and Mexico. It's challenging to argue that one country has gotten more or less than others. There are different markets with different strengths and weaknesses, and I think that's important to preserve."

According to Elms, there's a lack of support in the business community for Trump's position on NAFTA.

"Other than President Trump himself, there wasn't a large call from anyone for a renegotiation of NAFTA. Most of the business community was not calling loudly for renegotiation, the agricultural lobbies are generally in favour of NAFTA the way it is, the car industry actually likes NAFTA ... Most of Canada likes it, Mexico likes it," says Elms.

"One of the really interesting things that's happened under NAFTA is that agricultural lobbies in all three countries have come together to say as one voice, 'please don't mess up NAFTA'." 

Also on this episode of Counting the Cost:

Tencent earnings: Chinese internet giant Tencent has posted its best-ever quarterly results. The mobile fantasy game Honour of Kings set these earnings apart. This is the world's biggest money-making smartphone game. More than 200 million people play it and curbs on play time were even brought in after reports of addiction among children. Tencent also owns the WeChat mobile app, China's version of Facebook. All of this helped boost profit to $2.72bn dollars in the second quarter, up 70 percent from a year ago.

Cathay Pacific losses: Hong Kong based airline Cathay Pacific is predicting turbulent times ahead as it posts its worst first-half loss in 20 years. Divya Gopalan reports from Hong Kong

Qatar's solar-powered future: Qatar SolarTechnologies has signed a deal to help rescue Germany's SolarWorld. SolarWorld, Europe's largest solar panel manufacturer, was forced out of business by low-cost competition from China. It's agreed to sell its key assets for about 100 million euros to the Qatari-German joint venture. The plan is that the new company, Solarworld Industries, will help Qatar build a domestic solar industry. Qatar has set a goal to produce 20 percent of its electricity from solar energy by 2030.

China-North Korea: Official figures show China has increased its food exports to North Korea in the first six months of this year. There was a significant jump in Pyongyang's imports of corn, wheat and bananas. Analysts say that shows Pyongyang's growing reliance on its only ally, as Adrian Brown reports from Beijing.

North Korea economy: It's cut off from global trade, so how is the hermit kingdom funding its arms programme? Adrian Brown reports from Beijing on North Korea's reliance on Chinese imports. And Rajiv Biswas from HIS Global Markit explains how things like cybercrime and smuggling allegedly help North Korea earn foreign currency.

French bakeries: There are few things as quintessentially French as a baguette. The long crusty stick of bread is a source of national pride. But faced with increasing competition from supermarkets and changing consumer tastes, many traditional bakeries are now struggling. Natacha Butler reports from Paris.

Source: Al Jazeera