Mexican EcoMin Guajardo: Mexico, US likely ‘hours’ away from NAFTA agreement

Hugh Fox
August 27, 2018

Negotiators from both the US and Mexico have been holding talks for weeks to try and settle their differences on NAFTA.

A senior Canadian official told the news agency on Thursday there had been "no indication of flexibility from the U.S. on this issue".

"We've continued making progress", Guajardo said.

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

The U.S. and Mexico have been discussing a trade deal as part of negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement. Yet certain US demands that affect all three NAFTA nations remain unresolved and could still be deal breakers.

The U.S. on Thursday agreed to keep the 2.5 percent tariff now applied under World Trade Organization rules if the cars are made at factories that already exist, which leaves open the possibility that automobiles that are built at new plants could face tariffs of 20 percent to 25 percent.

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Guajardo, the top Mexican negotiator, told reporters in Washington that it would take at least a week to finalize the deal once Canada re-enters the talks. However, on the possibility of a handshake deal, Guajardo said it would have to involve all three countries.

"I think it'd be very soon", McCarthy, R-Calif., told Maria Bartiromo on "Sunday Morning Futures".

Some observers believe the Trump administration has sidelined Ottawa from the NAFTA negotiations. Canada may react to any perceived coercion by hardening its stance against US demands.

The sunset issue is one of the biggest remaining obstacles to a Nafta deal as negotiators race to try to land a new Nafta agreement in principle by the end of August.

Last week, Trump suggested that Canada had deliberately been frozen out of the NAFTA talks.

"It is no longer what the USA proposed in any way, it is an approach focused on future evaluation and continuation", he said. NAFTA eliminates most trade barriers among the nations.

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"No, we-, we keep on working. It will only work out to our favour".

A Canadian official declined to comment and referred back to remarks from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said last week he was encouraged by optimism coming from the US and Mexico but won't sign just any deal.

This week, media outlets have also said the talks could have a new hurdle: how to address energy issues in a renegotiated NAFTA.

Jesus Seade, an economic advisor to Mexico's incoming president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has also been participating in portions of the talks.

Trump has been pushing Mexico and Canada to agree to the clause, which would allow for a renegotiation of the deal every five years, and for a NAFTA member nation to withdraw at the same time.

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