Trudeau positive on reaching new NAFTA deal with US, Mexico

Erika Holt
May 18, 2018

Canada's argument went that if the USA claims to be reopening NAFTA specifically to deal with its trade deficit, and if the leading cause of that trade deficit with Mexico involves autos, and if the autos issue is nearly solved, then the Americans could walk away right now with a win.

"It's not a technical challenge, it is a challenge of will to reach an agreement that can work for everyone", he said.

According to the minister, who heads Mexico's negotiating team, since Mexico, Canada and the United States chose to modernize the 1994 trade deal, they have advanced on "a third" of approximately 30 chapters.

The NAFTA renegotiations are expected to now enter a period of prolonged delay because of the Mexican presidential election in July and the US congressional midterm elections in November.

If a NAFTA deal is not reached before the election, Mexico's negotiators will work closely with the incoming government's transition team, Smith told Mexican radio. The current frontrunner in Mexico's July 1 presidential election, left-leaning Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has pledged to stamp his own imprint on the deal, promising to appoint a new trade negotiator to this end if elected. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland's spokesman called the deadline a US issue. Ardently opposed to this, Canada and Mexico have offered an olive branch in the form of a mooted provision to review the agreement every five years with a view to updating it where necessary.

"I'm confident in saying that we have found a proposal that is broadly acceptable to the three partners and our industries on the auto side of things", he said, according to news reports.

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"I would not rule out the possibility of reaching (a deal) at any moment from the last week in May, or as long as it takes", Guajardo told journalists.

In Mexico, officials on Thursday downplayed the importance of Ryan's deadline. In any case, he said he was ready to keep negotiating: "We'll keep working until they shut off the lights".

Mexican officials - including the economy secretary, Ildefonso Guajardo, who is leading the Nafta talks - have insisted that the negotiations be confined to the content of the agreement itself, and not include immigration.

United States trade chief Robert Lighthizer has expressed some frustration on Thursday, as reported by Reuters, as the US' self-imposed deadline for a deal on NAFTA has slipped by without anybody seeming to care, and the NAFTA renegotiations continue to drag on.

Ryan clarified that if the independent body in the USA tasked with analysing trade deals managed to assess the new NAFTA faster than legally required, then in theory an agreement could still get to the floor for a vote in this Congress.

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