May 20, 2018

Mexico says NAFTA deal unlikely this week, Canada is upbeat

18 May 2018, 03:44 | Taylor George

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


"These trade deals, as you know, are always hard in the best of circumstances" and that the expectations can seem "an nearly impossible lift" even in a lame duck session, Kind said.

Citing American trade law, Ryan had said May 17 was the last day to receive notice of intent to sign a deal for a new North American Free Trade Agreement that could be passed by the current Congress before a new crop of lawmakers change the political calculus.

Republican House leader Paul Ryan noted if NAFTA talks don't produce a new deal soon, it may not get approved until 2019.

Lighthizer is scheduled to attend meetings on Thursday and Friday with the Chinese vice premier, Liu He.

Kind said Lighthizer was "hopeful" that he could rebalance the trade agreement to ensure bipartisan support.

He does criticize the government for taking too long, in his opinion, to engage on the key issue of automobiles; the countries spent last fall scolding one another, before serious back-and-forth began in December and January.

Mexico's presidential election will be held in July, and the expected victor could take a harder stance against President Donald Trump and renegotiating the trade deal.

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

"The runway for this Congress is very short", Hillman said.

US officials say the negotiations need to wrap up very soon to give the current Congress time to vote on a final text.

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"The point is, we can't work a bill unless we have an agreement that's in writing that we can work on, and that hasn't occurred yet", Ryan said. "This isn't my arbitrary deadline".

Mexico said Thursday there is no "do-or-die date" to conclude an updated trade deal with the United States and Canada, insisting a new agreement is possible from the end of May.

Neither the Mexican minister, Ildefonso Guajardo, nor Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland had plans to travel to Washington on Wednesday, their representatives said.

More flexibility was needed for a deal, Guajardo said.

The "skinny NAFTA", Ujczo says, would fall in line with the "do no harm" pleas by US agriculture, but he says not addressing key issues gives Democrats an advantage to say President Trump "did not fulfill his campaign promises to dairy farmers", and others.

WASHINGTON-The United States congressional leadership has indicated that it will not deal with a vote on NAFTA this year unless it sees the text of an agreement by the end of this week.

Even if the parties wanted to seal something quickly, there would have to be a breakthrough on multiple fronts.

But negotiators remain far apart on several key issues, involving domestic auto content, dispute resolution and whether to impose a "sunset clause" requiring periodic renewal of the treaty.

"The state of play is uncertainty", said Maryscott Greenwood, chief executive officer of the Canadian American Business Council in Washington, which represents firms in both countries.

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