US, Mexico near NAFTA agreement

28 August, 2018, 13:41 | Author: Gerard Cortez
  • The Mexican peso is jumping on hope for NAFTA progress

"I would say that we're practically in the final hours of this negotiation", he told reporters as he entered talks at the offices of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer.

US-Mexico relations are at their most strained in recent memory - and Mexico's newly elected president could ratchet up the acrimony.

Canada's top diplomat and chief NAFTA negotiator, Chrystia Freeland, said Wednesday she was encouraged by the progress and would rejoin the talks once Washington and Mexico City finish their bilateral discussions.

After the talks broke for lunch a couple of hours later, Guajardo said he could not declare victory yet.

Talks will resume at 9am (1300 GMT) Monday, Guajardo said.

Seade also said on Saturday that a "correct focus" on NAFTA's energy chapter has already been substantially agreed.

The sunset issue is one of the biggest remaining obstacles to a Nafta deal as negotiators race to try to land a new Nafta agreement in principle by the end of August.

Meanwhile, Trump said on Saturday that Washington could reach agreement with Mexico "soon" as the chief trade negotiator of Mexico's incoming president signaled possible solutions to energy rules and a contentious United States "sunset clause" demand.

This agreement reached in 1994 was renegotiated more than a year ago under pressure of Trump, who called it "the worst trade deal in history" in his first presidential debate.

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The administrations of Trump and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto have been working for five weeks to resolve specific issues so Canada can rejoin the talks. Trump emphasised the collaboration with the current and incoming Mexican administrations.

The negotiations "are well advanced", he told reporters, but "we are not there yet".

The threat of the 232 auto tariffs, which are widely opposed by US and worldwide carmakers such as GM, Ford, Toyota and BMW, has been seen as an attempt by the U.S.to build leverage in the Nafta talks. They include the US proposal that NAFTA include a five-year sunset clause, which has been flatly rejected by the Trudeau Liberals.

"For some time now, he (Trump) has been very prudent in referring to Mexicans, or he hasn't said offensive things", Lopez Obrador said Friday.

A Canadian official declined to comment and referred back to remarks from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said last week he was encouraged by optimism coming from the USA and Mexico but won't sign just any deal.

He's spoken of better relations with America's neighbour following the rise of Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (ahn-DRAYS' mahn-WEHL' LOH'-pez OH'-brah-dohr).

However, one major stumbling block involving all three countries is the United States demand for a so-called "sunset clause", which would oblige the three countries to renew the trade pact every five years.

Lopez Obrador, who will take office on December 1, took a break from his routine of meetings on Thursday and posted a video of himself on a baseball field, where took a turn at bat and connected solidly on about a half-dozen pitches.

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