NAFTA talks run up against deadline; US tariffs remain tough issue

Posted October 01, 2018

Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been reportedly pulled into the fray: on what's usually a personal day, his itinerary said he'd be spending Sunday in "private meetings".

The U.S, Mexico and Canada have been negotiating for 13 months to modernize the three-country North American Free Trade Agreement, which dates to 1994.

Among other things, the negotiators are battling over Canada's high dairy tariffs.

"Most of the big issues are solved with Canada", Navarro said, adding it would be "a great deal for all three countries".

Lawmakers briefed by Lighthizer said he told them the earliest that a vote could occur - either on a U.S. -Mexico deal or a trilateral deal including Canada - would be February or March 2019, after the Congress elected in November is sworn into office.

Rather than giving away the farm, literally, to quench Donald Trump's insatiable ego and meet his artificial deadlines, perhaps Canada should hold out for the Mueller Report, leading to the expectation of a more rational American head of state in the White House.

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In August, Trump said that the United States and Mexico had reached an agreement in their NAFTA talks. A spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative's Office declined to comment.

Trump made it clear Canada's failure to join would be unacceptable, with hefty auto tariffs as a outcome. "But a good fair deal is still very possible".

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he didn't request a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump while the two leaders were in NY this week for the United Nations General Assembly.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer - Freeland's counterpart at the talks - on Tuesday had complained Canada was not making enough concessions and said time was running out. Would it be limits to US takeover of Canadian companies?

They haven't said why, but it's likely to let Freeland focus on efforts to get Canada into a trilateral NAFTA deal with the US and Mexico, which sources say have intensified this week in the face of Monday's congressional deadline.

"Canadians are tough negotiators, as we should be", Trudeau fired back. He said, "Yeah, I did".

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Trump blames NAFTA for the loss of USA manufacturing jobs and wants major changes to the pact, which underpins $1.2 trillion in annual trade. The Trump administration could face barriers in Congress if it tries to advance a deal without Canada.

Auto industry executives say it is unlikely those targets can be met if Canada is not part of the deal, given supply chains that crisscross NAFTA borders multiple times.

Ujczo said the two sides have also largely settled on a dispute-resolution mechanism similar to that in the original NAFTA known as Chapter 19 - an issue that has always been a major stumbling block in the talks - and on a higher duty-free threshold for goods shipped into Canada: $100, up from $20. "A deal is not necessarily going to happen", said the source, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.

Negotiations continued on Sunday amid renewed urgency to nail down a new North American Free Trade Agreement that could be published by the end of the day so it can be signed by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto before he leaves office, the people said.

The United States would be made this Friday a counter-proposal in Canada, according to the president-elect of mexico, "which means that the negotiation is open".

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