ibusinesslines.com August 21, 2018

Mexico doubts that a NAFTA deal is possible by Thursday target date

18 May 2018, 03:45 | Erica Roy

Nafta Deadline Arrives With Little Prospect for an Agreement

A New NAFTA Deal Doesn't Seem Close, Despite Deadline

Earlier Wednesday, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said a deal by Thursday was practically impossible, but it was possible to reach one later this month or early June and still pass it under the current U.S. Congress. Mexico is under pressure to strike a deal before presidential elections in July further inject politics in negotiations.

Freeland traveled to Washington on Thursday for internal meetings with labor officials and representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a spokesman for her said.

"The NAFTA countries are nowhere near close to a deal", U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement, pointing to "gaping differences" on a host of issues, including intellectual property, agricultural access, labor and energy.

Trade negotiators for the United States, Canada and Mexico are running out of time to complete an overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement, making it likely the effort won't be completed this year. "We can't work a bill unless we have an agreement that's in writing that we can work, and that hasn't occurred yet", Ryan told reporters in Washington. Known as the ITC, the federal agency would have 105 days after the agreement is signed to assess the deal's potential impact.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said US lawmakers need a NAFTA deal completed this week if it is going to happen this year.

"My guess", he added, "is there is probably some wiggle room at the ITC for what it takes for their part of the process but not an indefinite amount and that means time is really of the essence".

"I would say you keep negotiating", said Conservative foreign-affairs critic Erin O'Toole.

A former senior Canadian trade negotiator, Hillman said a trade agreement has two purposes-liberalizing trade and providing certainty.

The three countries have been negotiating for nine months to modernize NAFTA.

"A proposal that would automatically terminate the agreement every five years runs directly counter to that fundamental principle of a trade agreement". To be sure, there are sticking points.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week told President Donald Trump that a new NAFTA is within reach, if the U.S.is willing to soften some of its other demands.

Guajardo quickly responded on Twitter, congratulating Trudeau for his remarks. "We know that those last conversations in any deal are extremely important, so I'm feeling positive about this, but it won't be done until it's done".

"To be honest, we are down to a point where there is a good deal on the table", Trudeau told the Economic Club of NY.

One of the most contentious issues in talks has been the USA push to tighten the rules of origin, which govern how much regional content a auto must have to qualify for NAFTA's duty-free benefits.

There's also the looming matter of steel and aluminum tariffs, scheduled to kick in June 1 unless the USA extends them.

"There's still some tough issues", MacNaughton said.

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