NAFTA 'hot topics' unresolved as deal deadline looms, says USA official Ross

NAFTA 'hot topics' unresolved as deal deadline looms, says US official Ross

Under the US "fast track" trade negotiation law, there are lengthy notification periods before Congress could start considering a new NAFTA, precipitating the establishment of this Thursday's deadline.

Reaching an updated NAFTA deal before Thursday's deadline is looking unlikely, Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo said today.

Ross, who is not directly involved in the negotiations, alluded to the idea that talks could still be in progress on June 1, when a US steel and aluminum tariff exemption for Canada and Mexico expires.

He says Trudeau told the US president that the ingredients are there for a deal, but Guajardo also says the American side needs to drop some of its impractical proposals.

May 17 loomed as a deadline for a preliminary agreement after Paul Ryan, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, last week said that for Congress to approve a revamped NAFTA, an agreement in principle had to be submitted by then. "We don't think it will happen by Thursday", Guajardo said during an interview at a morning television news program.

"For example, Canada and Mexico also have the postponement until June 1".

"We will keep negotiating, and in the moment that we have a good negotiation, we can close the deal and it will be notified, independent of which Congress [the current or new] that will vote on it", he said. "They're ongoing now and we're pushing forward and hopeful that we can get something done soon", Sanders said.

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The current leading presidential candidate in Mexico, the progressive Andrés Manuel López Obrador, favors staying in NAFTA. Guajardo said the currency was being hurt by uncertainty over NAFTA talks and Mexico's upcoming election.

"It could be before the Mexican election on July 1, it could be just after", he said.

Among the issues the three sides have yet to agree on is a USA proposal to include a so-called sunset clause that would allow the deal to automatically expire every five years, pending renewal.

A push to conclude a deal by the end of the week came yesterday in the form of a telephone conversation between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Donald Trump. "The problem is there needs to be flexibility from the parties", Guajardo said. Neither Canada nor Mexico wants that.

Kenneth Smith, the chief Mexican negotiator at the talks, said that for Mexico there were no deadlines.

Trudeau also says there are some points of view that will never be valid, including those who commit female genital mutilation and those who deny that climate change is real.

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