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Nafta Countries 'Nowhere Near Close to a Deal,' Trump's Negotiator Says

18 May, 2018, 13:52 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • A New NAFTA Deal Doesn't Seem Close, Despite Deadline

Ryan himself told reporters at the U.S. Capitol that Congress can not begin working on the negotiating law known as "fast track" without a trade deal in hand.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said that the Republican-controlled Congress would need to be notified of a new deal by Thursday to give lawmakers a chance to approve it before a newly elected Congress takes over in January.

US trade czar Robert Lighthizer rejected the idea that an agreement was within imminent reach. Negotiators are working to wrap up chapters tied to the modernization of the agreement, which includes topics like the environment, energy, and financial services. 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. 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.

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.

"We don't feel a deal with a sunset clause is much of a deal at all", Trudeau said.




With attention focused on the contentious issues of cars, Trudeau said that Mexico had made proposals that "will go a long way towards reducing the trade deficit the USA has with Mexico and indeed even bringing back some auto jobs from Mexico to the United States".

"We will reach a deal when the deal is a good one", he told Mexican TV network Televisa. "We know that those last conversations in any deal are extremely important, so I'm feeling positive about this, but it won't be done until it's done".

Mexico will send part of its NAFTA team to Washington on Monday, and another contingent is already there, Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Thursday.

U.S. Representative Kevin Brady, the chairman of the tax and trade-focused House Ways and Means Committee, said there was probably little room to go past the Thursday deadline for a deal and still get a new NAFTA approved by year end. However, the Canadian government does not appear to be in a rush for a deal to be reached. This takes into account the practical realities faced by companies and investors, which customarily map out their business strategies with significantly longer timeframes in mind; with the threat of expiry ever present, many claim that investor confidence and commercial certainty would erode beyond fix, with serious knock-on effects for all parties involved.

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