Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

White House on NAFTA: 'We still want to see something happen'

White House on NAFTA: 'We still want to see something happen'

Guajardo: not optimistic about an early conclusion.

Don't expect a NAFTA deal by this week's supposed target date.

Negotiators from the United States, Mexico and Canada have been in intense talks since last month to try to reach a deal before US congressional elections in November.

"You have to continue to negotiate and the moment you reach a good negotiation, close the deal", he added.

The United States will hold midterm elections in November and a new Congress will first sit in January.

Mexico's chief trade negotiator says he doesn't think talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will end before a Thursday deadline, making it unlikely the current Congress will vote on a new agreement. Mexico's presidential vote on July 1 also complicates the process.

The current leading presidential candidate in Mexico, the progressive Andrés Manuel López Obrador, favors staying in NAFTA. "They're ongoing now and we're pushing forward and hopeful that we can get something done soon", Sanders said. "So depending on where we are on NAFTA on June 1, the president will decide whether or not to extend their situation", Ross said.

He even revealed the details of a conversation on the subject between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump, who spoke by phone on Monday.

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A report in Canadian media said Trudeau make a direct appeal to Trump to keep momentum alive at the negotiating table.

That's the view of Mexico's economy minister.

However, if that doesn't happen, Graciela Márquez said, it would be preferable to complete the negotiations after the new president is sworn in in December.

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.

Speaking at the National Press Club on Monday, Ross said he did not believe any of the "big hot topics" were resolved, including rules of origin for autos, labor issues, US demands for a five-year "sunset" provision and major changes to dispute settlement systems.

More flexibility was needed for a deal, Guajardo said.

Kenneth Smith, the head of Mexico's technical negotiating team, reiterated in a radio interview that from Mexico's perspective there are no fixed deadlines it is working towards.

"And those are very complex issues, particularly rules of origin, so eventually it will come down to every comma, every semicolon, everything before we can figure out if it's something that's workable", said Ross.

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