U.S. pushing for NAFTA deal as Thursday deadline approaches

May 18, 2018, 13:51
U.S. pushing for NAFTA deal as Thursday deadline approaches

With attention focused on the contentious issues of cars, Trudeau said that Mexico had made proposals that "will go a long way towards reducing the trade deficit the USA has with Mexico and indeed even bringing back some auto jobs from Mexico to the United States".

Kind said Lighthizer was "hopeful" that he could rebalance the trade agreement to ensure bipartisan support.

"It's not a technical challenge, it is a challenge of will to reach an agreement that can work for everyone", he said.

Citing American trade law, Ryan had said May 17 was the last day to receive notice of intent to sign a deal for a new North American Free Trade Agreement that could be passed by the current Congress before a new crop of lawmakers change the political calculus. But recent US tariffs on steel and aluminum complicated the already-cold negotiations.

Chief Mexican NAFTA negotiator Kenneth Smith said that the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto had a responsibility to keep negotiating until Mexico's new president, who will be elected on July 1, takes office on December 1.

It rebuffed an effort from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, and several high-ranking staffers who were in the USA on Thursday urging a quick deal.

"We don't feel a deal with a sunset clause is much of a deal at all", Trudeau said.

"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.

U.S. Representative Kevin Brady, the chairman of the tax and trade-focused House Ways and Means Committee, said there was probably little room to go past the Thursday deadline for a deal and still get a new NAFTA approved by year end. In any case, he said he was ready to keep negotiating: "We'll keep working until they shut off the lights".

The "skinny NAFTA", Ujczo says, would fall in line with the "do no harm" pleas by USA 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.

In Mexico, officials on Thursday downplayed the importance of Ryan's deadline.

Mexico's Economy Secretary, Ildefonso Guajardo, echoed those sentiments, saying that there will not be a deal by Thursday.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said that the Republican-controlled Congress would need to be notified of a new deal by Thursday to give lawmakers a chance to approve it before a newly elected Congress takes over in January. "Any renegotiated NAFTA that implies losses of existing Mexican jobs is unacceptable".

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

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