Canada deliberately sidelined from latest NAFTA talks, Trump suggests

20 Août, 2018, 02:12 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Canada deliberately sidelined from latest NAFTA talks, Trump suggests

For four straight weeks, US trade czar Robert Lighthizer and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo have held bilateral NAFTA talks while Canada has been absent from the bargaining table. The U.S. and Mexico are pushing for an agreement this month that would give the countries time to sign the pact before Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador takes office in December.

Mexico's foreign minister Luis Videgaray, in Washington with Guajardo for meetings with USA officials, also struck an optimistic note, saying "we are getting close" when asked about the likelihood of reaching a breakthrough.

The US, Mexico and Canada began talks to modernize the 24-year-old trade pact a year ago at Trump's insistence but the talks were hung up over US demands.

Politico reports the political situation in both countries is such that each is more eager than ever to make a deal, setting up a scenario in which significant progress could be on the near horizon.

The development raised hopes that a year's worth of sometimes fraught negotiations could reach a successful outcome by the end of the year.

"Hopefully we will be able to close up no later than the middle of the week", he said.

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Mexico has not yet engaged with the United States over a "sunset clause" that could kill NAFTA after five years, he added.

"I'm hopeful that in the next several days we'll have a breakthrough", Lighthizer said in response to a question from U.S. President Donald Trump on how talks were progressing during a U.S. cabinet meeting at the White House.

Canada, the third partner in NAFTA, has been absent from face-to-face talks in recent weeks.

Some auto industry executives have said the United States and Mexico are close to a deal to increase North American automotive content thresholds, with substantial requirements for content produced in high wage areas, namely the United States and Canada.

Mexican and USA ministers will meet again on Tuesday, Guajardo said, after a sectoral meeting on Monday to discuss financial issues related to government action.

Guajardo also sounded an optimistic note Friday, where he wrapped up his fourth straight week of discussions with Lighthizer.

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