'Nowhere near close:' U.S. rebuffs Trudeau hope for quick NAFTA deal


'Nowhere near close:' U.S. rebuffs Trudeau hope for quick NAFTA deal

Mexico said Thursday there is no "do-or-die date" to conclude an updated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States and Canada, as an informal deadline set by the US Congress expired.


With attention focused on the contentious issues of cars, Trudeau said that Mexico had made proposals that "will go a long way towards reducing the trade deficit the USA has with Mexico and indeed even bringing back some auto jobs from Mexico to the United States".

"Lighthizer said the United States will continue to engage in negotiations to secure a deal beneficial for USA workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses".

It rebuffed an effort from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, and several high-ranking staffers who were in the USA on Thursday urging a quick deal.

"I'm confident in saying that we have found a proposal that is broadly acceptable to the three partners and our industries on the auto side of things", he said, according to news reports.

Since his presidential campaign, Trump has called the Nafta accord, which took effect in 1994, a "horrible" deal for the USA and threatened to withdraw if it could not be renegotiated. Ardently opposed to this, Canada and Mexico have offered an olive branch in the form of a mooted provision to review the agreement every five years with a view to updating it where necessary.

In Mexico, officials on Thursday downplayed the importance of Ryan's deadline.

"We are down to a point where there is a good deal on the table".

Mexico will send part of its NAFTA team to Washington on Monday, and another contingent is already there, Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Thursday. "We know that those last conversations in any deal are extremely important, so I'm feeling positive about this, but it won't be done until it's done".

The prime minister explained Canada's opposition in real estate terms. "Any renegotiated NAFTA that implies losses of existing Mexican jobs is unacceptable".

Those impending tariffs, the July 1 Mexican election, and the US congressional calendar, had all created pressure for an imminent deal.

United States trade chief Robert Lighthizer has expressed some frustration on Thursday, as reported by Reuters, as the US' self-imposed deadline for a deal on NAFTA has slipped by without anybody seeming to care, and the NAFTA renegotiations continue to drag on.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said a NAFTA deal would have to be reached by Thursday of this week in order for Congress, which is controlled by trade-friendly Republicans, to hold a vote on the revised agreement by the end of this year. However, the Canadian government does not appear to be in a rush for a deal to be reached.



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