Nafta Deadline Arrives With Little Prospect for an Agreement

18 May, 2018, 13:50 | Author: Dustin Murphy
  • A New NAFTA Deal Doesn't Seem Close, Despite Deadline

Notably, these two agreements concern markets significantly larger than the United States (with both having total populations nearing the 500 million mark). "There are gaping differences", Lighthizer said in an evening statement.

The future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) depends on the ability of the negotiating sides to adopt more flexible positions on the tough issues, Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said on Thursday. The three countries have been negotiating for nine months to modernize NAFTA, and midterm congressional elections in the USA and a Mexican presidential campaign this year have raised the urgency for a quick resolution. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland's spokesman called the deadline a USA issue.

The "skinny NAFTA", Ujczo says, would fall in line with the "do no harm" pleas by US agriculture, but he says not addressing key issues gives Democrats an advantage to say President Trump "did not fulfill his campaign promises to dairy farmers", and others. Mexico's presidential election will be held in July, and the expected victor could take a harder stance against President Donald Trump and renegotiating the trade deal.

Notwithstanding this, major sticking points remain - among the most prominent of which is the U.S. proposal for a five-year sunset clause whereby the renegotiated agreement would automatically terminate unless all three countries explicitly agree to renew it.

"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. "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".

Trudeau drew another public contradiction Thursday - this one from Mexico.


In the midst of a presidential election campaign in that country, and facing its own political pressures at home, the Mexican government publicly challenged Canada's prime minister. "But a clarification is necessary: any renegotiated NAFTA that implies losses of existing Mexican jobs is unacceptable", he said.

Trudeau used an example created to appeal to a certain former real-estate developer who is now the US president; he compared the termination clause to building a skyscraper on a parcel of land you might lose in five years.

Those impending tariffs, the July 1 Mexican election, and the US congressional calendar, had all created pressure for an imminent deal.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDem rep to launch discharge petition to force net neutrality vote in House GOP leaders huddle with discharge petition backers, opponents Trade experts, lawmakers say NAFTA deal within reach MORE said Thursday that while he needed the NAFTA deal on Capitol Hill soon there may be a few weeks of "wiggle room" for a deal to be considered by the current Congress.

Despite the pessimistic message, Lighthizer vowed to keep trying to reach a deal.

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