Published: Sat, September 01, 2018
Finance | By Jaime Brady

Mexico made ‘significant concessions’ in NAFTA deal with U.S: Chrystia Freeland

Mexico made ‘significant concessions’ in NAFTA deal with U.S: Chrystia Freeland

The vexing question of greater US access to the Canada's protected dairy sector is now pivotal as the NAFTA negotiations in Washington draw closer to President Donald Trump's Friday deadline for a three-country deal.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, emerging Wednesday evening from her second meeting of the day with her USA counterpart, said officials would be working late into the night - and possibly all night - on potential "landing zones" where both parties can agree.

CBC News will continue its live coverage throughout the day.

Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called Monday, August 27, for a 3-way trade deal with the United States and Canada, saying a two-way agreement reached with the USA was just a first step.

The timeline for negotiations could be tight, as a deal would have to be reached by Friday to meet a 90-day notice window for a deal to be signed by outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and for Congress to act before any changes from midterm elections.

John Kran is with the Michigan Farm Bureau, and he says they're excited that it looks like President Donald Trump has reached a trade agreement with Mexico.

Negotiations among the three partners, whose mutual trade totals more than $1.2 trillion annually, have dragged on for more than a year, putting pressure on the Mexican peso and the Canadian dollar.

The president is critical of Canada's lopsided treatment of the US, especially with the northern nation's tariffs on dairy products that be almost 300 percent.

"There's been some very positive progress particularly on autos and we're glad to be engaging as we have been", he told reporters Tuesday in Longueuil, Que.

The preliminary agreement announced Monday allows carmakers to import vehicles duty-free if 75 percent of the content is made in the us and Mexico.

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"The first read is that it means very little and that it's basically a glorified review clause, which of course is something we can live with", the official said. "He has not got any approval to negotiate a bilateral deal with Mexico", Herman said. Instead, the agreement with Mexico extends NAFTA for 16 years but with a review every six years.

Ricketts said he emphasized the importance of NAFTA during the visit, and has previously encouraged USA officials to finalize an agreement.

Ildefonso Guajardo, Mexico's economy minister, said that if Canada doesn't sign the deal, the pact between the US and Mexico will need some tweaks.

In 2016, Canada created the Class 7 pricing agreement that has essentially restricted US exports of ultra-filtered milk used to make dairy products.

Canada is due to rejoin the NAFTA discussions on Tuesday and has said it also wants to have its say on the new rules.

On a brighter side, Mexico as agreed to make concession on its auto industry.

The Canadian official cautioned that the NAFTA context is different from the TPP negotiations, but said, "There are a lot of options that involve access and quota and all the instruments we can use to give the Americans what they want". "We're not going to stand for that".

Freeland says the Mexicans' tough decision to compromise on labour and wages as part of its auto rules of origin talks with the USA has cleared the way for more substantive talks between Washington and Ottawa. The timeline accommodates a 90-day waiting period under US trade law before President Donald Trump can sign the pact.

The Trump administration said the deal improves labor provisions, in part by requiring 40 percent to 45 percent of auto content to be made by workers earning at least $16 per hour - a salary that could remove incentives for automakers to move jobs to Mexico.

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