Published: Mon, August 27, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

USA and Mexico appear close on revamping NAFTA

USA and Mexico appear close on revamping NAFTA

Speaking to reporters Saturday, Mexico's incoming government's negotiator suggested the U.S. has even eased off on demands for a contentious "sunset" clause.

The US-Mexico discussions have focused on creating new rules for the automotive industry, which US President Donald Trump has put at the heart of his drive to reupholster the 24-year-old agreement.

In the long run, the agreements reached between US and Mexican negotiators could dissuade some investments in Mexico.

Trump has softened his tone recently both about the trade accord and about Mexico, a nation that he argues has stolen and done little to stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking to the United States.

The federal government insists it hasn't been frozen out of the talks, and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said she's been in regular contact with both her counterparts, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo.

Guajardo predicted that the US and Mexico would need at least a week of work to resolve issues with Canada whenever the nation rejoins talks. Lopez Obrador has thanked U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday, Aug. 25, for treating Mexicans with more respect, or at least not saying anything insulting lately.

Despite Trump's oftentimes contentious relationship with Mexico, his administration and that of outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto have been working for the past five weeks to iron out their bilateral differences so Canada can rejoin the talks to update NAFTA.

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Adam Austen, a spokesman for Canada's foreign minister, added: "We're glad Mexico and the USA continue to work out their bilateral issues". "And we have to make sure that everybody feels comfortable with this agreement". "I think this reflects reality, I think we're doing well". Guajardo said it's still too early to declare victory.

But Canadian officials, as well as officials from the US and Mexico, have insisted the two-way NAFTA talks are necessary before the three-party negotiations can restart.

Mexico and Canada have adamantly opposed the United States sunset demand that would kill the pact unless it is renegotiated every five years, a plan that business groups also say will stifle long-term investment decisions.

Long skeptical of foreign companies entering the Mexican oil industry, Lopez Obrador opposed Pena Nieto's energy reform.

"We need to have engagement with Canada, and the only way it can happen is if we continue through the weekend and into next week", Guajardo told reporters Thursday afternoon.

If three-way talks run into September, final approval of the deal in Mexico is likely to pass to Lopez Obrador, because under fast-track authority, the US Congress needs 90 days' notice to vote on a new Nafta once the renegotiation is finished.

Obrador has told Trump that he would like the deal completed before he takes office.

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