Friday, 19 October, 2018

Mexico trade deal text to exclude Canada, irritating USA lawmakers

Trump Didn’t Have A Meeting Scheduled With Trudeau — But He Canceled It Anyway LETTER: Concessions missing from US | Letter-To-The-Editor | Opinion | Letter-To-The-Editor
Gerardo Duncan | 01 October, 2018, 03:58

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday that the United States is finding NAFTA talks tough because Canadians are tough negotiators.

MONTREAL: US and Canadian negotiators were holding eleventh-hour talks on Sunday aimed at revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement ahead of a Washington-imposed deadline.

"Everybody's negotiating in good faith right now as we speak and the deadline is midnight tonight to get the text in to Congress in order to make sure this goes forward", said Navarro.

Mexico on Friday evening will publish the text of its trade agreement with the us, giving the public its first in-depth look at a deal that would replace NAFTA - and potentially exclude Canada, amid a call from Mexico's incoming leader to preserve the three-country pact.

Trade experts briefed on the progress so far say an agreement is well within reach.

- Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland postponed her United Nations speech as free trade talks between the USA and Canada intensified.

Quebec, which is home to half of Canada's dairy industry, has become an important political fulcrum in the talks, particularly since sources familiar with the effort say Canada has indeed offered concessions that would improve access to the country's dairy market for US producers.

A NAFTA deal had looked unlikely on Wednesday when, after a month of slow-moving discussions, Trump indicated he was fed up with Trudeau, who has insisted he will not sign a bad deal.

The government "is still having constructive discussions" with US counterparts, and "some" progress has been made, said one insider, speaking on condition of anonymity given the sensitive nature of the talks. Negotiators are racing against the clock because of a US-set deadline.

These negotiations were first prompted by Trump's belief that the deal as signed 24 years ago was unfair to the USA, and upon his election he initiated the talks that have since become a key focus of Freeland's tenure as foreign affairs minister and for the entire federal government, including high-level bureaucrats from various departments.

US President Donald Trump has been seeking to renegotiate the United States' trade agreements with other countries, including the NAFTA deal, since his election campaign in 2016.

Canada and the US are still trying to narrow their differences on NAFTA, which include disagreements over dispute-settlement measures and access to Canada's protected dairy industry.

A fourth Canadian source directly familiar with the negotiations said any suggestion Ottawa would accept a cap or quota on autos exports was completely inaccurate. He said he's optimistic the US and Canada can reach a deal. "So it's either going to be the text goes in with Mexico and the US or the text goes in with all three countries".

Trump has repeatedly threatened to start taxing Canadian auto imports.

In a copy of the letter Trump sent to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the President of the Senate, Trump said he meant to initiate trade negotiations with both countries, and enter the agreement by the end of November 2018, saying that "dramatic progress" has been made related to several areas. As of Friday night, sources say that dispute has yet to be resolved.

The text is expected to conform to details previously released on tighter automotive rules requiring an increase in regional value content to 75 percent from 62.5 percent previously, with 40-45 percent coming from "high wage" areas, effectively the United States. There were reports Sunday evening that the USA was prepared to concede on this point.

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