Lighthizer says NAFTA countries are 'nowhere' near reaching a deal

18 May, 2018, 13:51 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • NAFTA Flags

Until last Friday, Mexican officials thought they had come to a compromise with their American counterparts on a key part of Nafta as they neared agreement on rules that would raise the share of an automobile's content that has to be made in the region to qualify for zero tariffs, and rules governing the minimum wages of those working on autos, according to a Mexican government official with knowledge of the talks. Even if the auto issues were to be resolved, negotiators would then have to address a variety of other matters on which there remain big disagreements.

"The NAFTA countries are nowhere near close to a deal...."

Speaking Thursday, Ryan indicated if the U.S., Mexico and Canada could reach an agreement soon, meaning Congress could still take it up this year.

The Mexican peso and Canadian dollar weakened following Lighthizer's comments. There's no date for him to meet with Lighthizer and Freeland, Guajardo said. 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. Any country can quit on six months' notice; none of the parties has given that notice.

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"There are gaping differences on intellectual property, agricultural market access, de minimis levels, energy, labor, rules of origin, geographical indications, and much more", U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Thursday in a statement e-mailed by his press office. "This isn't my arbitrary deadline". House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady says "we're hopeful they'll continue to make progress on this agreement". Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland's spokesman called the deadline a USA issue.

The NAFTA renegotiations are expected to now enter a period of prolonged delay because of the Mexican presidential election in July and the USA congressional midterm elections in November.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani says Federal Bureau of Investigation may have placed spy in Trump campaign Giuliani: There is "nothing illegal about looking for dirt on political opponents" Giuliani: If Mueller subpoenas us, we will challenge it MORE has called NAFTA a disaster that needed a total overhaul so it would provide more benefits to the United States. She told reporters Wednesday that May 17 was an "arbitrary" date and that the real deadline for a 2018 vote was "probably around mid-June". MacNaughton said Canadian and Mexican officials plan to hold discussions in Washington, without saying when. "Mexico and Canada clearly have a desire to modernize Nafta, and it's unclear if the USA has a desire to modernize Nafta on Speaker Ryan's timeline".

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