NAFTA partners agree to accelerate talks

Anti-US rhetoric predicted to accompany Mexico's presidential election campaign

Five days of trade talks wrapped up Sunday with a commitment by all three NAFTA partners to accelerate the process in the coming months.

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An early finish to negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement will benefit Mexico, which would prefer to see it done before campaigning begins for next year’s presidential election.

In a joint press release on Sunday, representatives of Mexico, the United States and Canada said last week’s meetings covered more than two dozen different negotiating topics.

“Negotiators from each country will continue domestic consultations and work to advance negotiating text through the end of August, and will reconvene in Mexico for a second round of talks from September 1-5,” the statement said.

The three parties have agreed that negotiations will continue “at a rapid pace,” moving to Canada in late September and returning to the U.S. in October. Additional rounds are being planned for the remainder of the year.

Mexico Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo said the idea is to conclude the negotiations at the end of the year or in early 2018 before election campaigns begin for the Mexican presidence and U.S. Congress.

According to a Canadian analyst, accelerating the talks has turned the process around, putting the tougher issues on the table — including automobiles and rules of origin — first rather than waiting till the end.

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That, says public policy analyst Meredith Lilly, is a sign that “the Americans realize that they could be put in a [difficult] position because of the Mexican calendar.”

That calendar means anti-U.S. political posturing could begin early in the new year as parties and candidates come out hard against U.S. President Donald Trump as an election tactic, said Lilly.

But an unnamed source told Reuters the schedule as exceedingly fast, given that past trade deals took years to negotiate.

One of the stickier issues in the talks will be rules of origin for the automotive industry. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has made it clear that strengthening those rules was a priority. They are also the main factor behind U.S. trade deficits, an issue deemed critical by President Trump.

Source: El Universal (sp), CBC (en), Reuters (en)

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  • Happy Girl

    Last night during a campaign style speech in Arizona President Trump threatened to cancel NAFTA, less than one week into negotiations. He has absolutely no idea what NAFTA is or how it actually creates jobs. There are farming states (which do a huge business with Canada and Mexico) that voted for him which will suffer greatly if he withdraws from NAFTA, advisers have shown him the stats. Canada and Mexico are already looking into new markets for their products because the president is so…what is the word? Nuts, insane, unfit, delusional. Big business wants the best deal and they will go where the deal is…Trump and his family know this, they produce their brand name products off shore and import cheap labour (temporary work visas) for his golf courses. Why not pass laws requiring manufacturers to make a percentage of their products in the USA? He is unlikely to cancel NAFTA…he was just spouting off for his base. And if he does…his base may suddenly wake up when they lose their jobs. He went bankrupt three times…the USA will be his fourth. Stand strong Mexico and Canada, negotiate hard!

    • Commander Barkfeather

      Trump actually needs NAFTA. Without it, he would have nothing to blame his troubles on. Like a 21st century Georges-Jacques Danton, it would be obvious to all that HE was the problem all along. Should Mexico and Canada find new markets for their goods (and I think it is likely they will), the US may find itself isolated, with nothing but a closet full of old MAGA caps to comfort itself. But any US president may initiate new trade talks at any time. Even if Trump were to act in a way we would all regret, this decision could be reversed when his administration ends… which could be any minute now.

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