Friday, 19 October, 2018

Mexico NAFTA talks continue into weekend

Mexico's Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo enters the Office of the US Trade Representative during a day of meetings on the NAFTA treaty in Washington The Mexican peso is jumping on hope for NAFTA progress
Jodi Jackson | 28 August, 2018, 13:40

A major trade agreement with Mexico may be coming soon, the USA president announced.

The three countries have been negotiating for a year to salvage the trade pact that US President Donald Trump has said has been a "disaster" for the US.

Guajardo predicted that the USA and Mexico would need at least a week of work to resolve issues with Canada whenever the nation rejoins talks. It's no longer what the United States was putting first in any way", Seade said of the sunset clause outside the U.S. Trade Representative's office.

Ahead of his talks at the offices of the US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, the Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo sounded very optimistic over reaching the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) deal.

Even so, the USA administration has been seeking to impose a cap on Mexican vehicle and SUV exports to the United States that could be sent duty-free or at a 2.5 percent tariff, complicating the auto talks, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

The tone has become more cautious since then.

"The idea is that we are staying because we know there are issues to resolve", Guajardo said.

US and Mexican officials say they will push for a deal that could open the door for Canada to return.

The talks could drag on due to unresolved sticking points, such as rules of origin for autos, meant to bring more production to the region, a US sunset proposal that could kill NAFTA after five years and dispute resolution mechanisms. With President Trump's propensity for only giving a small part of the story on any issue of importance, he failed to mention Mexican president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's (AMLO) opposition to the energy chapter in NAFTA.

In the long run, the agreements reached between US and Mexican negotiators could dissuade some investments in Mexico. "But I think a deal is very likely within reach in the very, very near future", Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, told CNBC on Wednesday.

Although he had indicated there could be a breakthrough this week, he said Thursday the talks would have to continue into next week.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (L) look on as Mexico's Minister of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal (R) speaks during a news conference on March 10, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Jesus Seade, designated chief negotiator of Mexico's next government, told reporters the new US position would allow a periodic review of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but without an automatic expiration unless renegotiated every five years.

Canada's government reiterated on Thursday that it would need to be satisfied with any new rules of origin.

But Guajardo told reporters that Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland was ready at any point to proceed with the NAFTA negotiations. Canada has flatly rejected the addition of a sunset clause, which would see NAFTA renegotiated every five years.

Some say the White House is also feeling some heat to strike a deal.

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