Mexico, U.S. likely 'hours' away from agreement on NAFTA: minister

28 August, 2018, 13:41 | Author: Teresa Adams
  • The Mexican peso is jumping on hope for NAFTA progress

Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo cited unspecified "advances" following eight hours of talks Sunday with a team led by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner. Mexico will not consider the issues resolved until Canada is also involved in the deal again.

For several weeks, Canada's team has been expected to rejoin the talks in Washington, but its anticipated return has been delayed and it remains unclear when it will be invited back.

The tussle over how to treat imported cars that don't meet new stringent regional Nafta content rules highlights, however, how the different elements of Trump's aggressive trade policy are sometimes clashing.

That demand has been causing friction at the latest U.S. -Mexico talks, according to an industry source familiar with the process, who spoke on condition of anonymity. With President Trump's propensity for only giving a small part of the story on any issue of importance, he failed to mention Mexican president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's (AMLO) opposition to the energy chapter in NAFTA.

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Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland of Canada - the third party to the trade pact - said earlier in the week that she was encouraged by the progress between Washington and Mexico City and would rejoin the talks once the bilateral discussions concluded.

Among the bilateral issues that Mexican officials and the United States delegation, led by trade representative Robert Lighthizer, have been discussing are contentious topics such as rules for the auto market, a major area of strategic economic concern for Mexico. The U.S. has proposed tightening regional content requirements for auto production and having a certain percentage of a vehicle manufactured by higher-paid workers. The U.S. wants a "sunset clause", meaning the NAFTA deal would have to be renewed every five years, and they are adamant on this point.

NAFTA negotiators, who began their work one year ago, have missed a series of informal deadlines, from an original goal for a deal by last December to a revised objective for an agreement in the first half of this year.

Castanon is Mexico's most important business lobby figure, leading a chamber that includes groups of industries such as banking and manufacturing.

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One of the White House's goals going into the talks was to significantly increase the proportion of USA parts in the auto sector.

The U.S. and Mexico in recent weeks have made progress on the thorny issue of auto manufacturing, as the Trump administration pushes for a deal that would boost factory jobs in America.

Canadian officials have downplayed the significance of their exclusion from recent talks and argued that it is good for the USA and Mexico to resolve their own differences on thorny issues like autos and agriculture. I think the citizens of both countries have accommodated the reality of the 'new-new, ' which means nothing's final. and today's good feelings are simply that: today's good feelings.

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