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18 May 2018, 03:41 | Opal Carroll
Nafta Deadline Arrives With Little Prospect for an Agreement
Negotiators from the U.S., Mexico and Canada have nothing to show for their efforts despite meeting all week in Washington DC to coming up with a deal, knowing that time was running short to get a deal through Congress in this legislative session. He didn't say who would attend, but his country's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland will be in the USA capital Thursday for unspecified meetings, according to three people familiar with talks and one Canadian government official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The NAFTA countries appear poised to blow past a target date for getting a deal, rendering it unlikely that the process of negotiating, voting on, and implementing a new continental trade pact will be completed this year.
Thursday marked the informal deadline set by the US Congress to wrap up a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but there is still no immediate end to the talks in sight. MacNaughton said Canadian and Mexican officials plan to hold talks in Washington, without saying when. "We can't work a bill unless we have an agreement that's in writing that we can work, and that hasn't occurred yet", Ryan told reporters in Washington. The U.S. International Trade Commission then has up to 105 days after the signing to produce a study on the effects of the agreement.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said Congress needs a deal by Thursday in order for it to be approved by the midterm elections. "I do not know", he said.
Ministers hadn't even scheduled their next high-level meeting, negotiating staff weren't in the same country, chats were happening long-distance by phone and video conference, and less than one-third of the agreement's chapters were fully completed.
A former senior Canadian trade negotiator, Hillman said a trade agreement has two purposes-liberalizing trade and providing certainty. To be sure, there are sticking points.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week told President Donald Trump that a new NAFTA is within reach, if the USA was willing to soften some of its other demands.
Guajardo quickly responded on Twitter, congratulating Trudeau for his remarks.
But the risk they now face is that any agreement reached as of this moment will ultimately arrive at its final votes after this year, under a different cast of politicians, potentially with different priorities. "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".
"We will reach a deal when the deal is a good one", he told Mexican TV network Televisa. "We're that close on autos", the ambassador said, showing a small gap between his index finger and thumb.
"An bad lot of things would have to go right in order for this to be voted on in this Congress", said Eric Miller, a Washington-based trade adviser and Woodrow Wilson Center fellow.
"There's still some tough issues", MacNaughton said.
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