Thursday, 24 May, 2018

Lighthizer Said to Be Pessimistic on Meeting Nafta Deadline

A New NAFTA Deal Doesn't Seem Close, Despite Deadline Lighthizer Said to Be Pessimistic on Meeting Nafta Deadline
Sammy Stanley | 18 May, 2018, 04:53

Trade representatives from Canada, Mexico and the US continue negotiating a revised NAFTA agreement. For the auto industry, which has argued against sweeping changes, the failure to reach agreement will likely be met with a sigh of relief although the battle over NAFTA will continue. Ryan is hoping for a deal sooner than that.

Earlier Wednesday, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said a deal by Thursday was practically impossible, but it was possible to reach one later this month or early June and still pass it under the current U.S. Congress. Mexico is under pressure to strike a deal before presidential elections in July further inject politics in negotiations.

US officials say the negotiations need to wrap up very soon to give the current Congress time to vote on a final text.

Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told NPR Ryan could probably find a way to postpone the deadline a few days if the countries were on the verge of an agreement, but that's not the case.

Guajardo said it was not yet clear when the ministers from Mexico, Canada and the United States responsible for negotiating NAFTA would meet again. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland's spokesman called the deadline a USA issue.

Macron: EU summit decides to back Iran deal, protect European businesses
The leaders of Macedonia and Greece met on the sidelines of the summit although officials played down the chance of any deal. Tusk said that while there were low expectations regarding Iran, there were high expectations regarding Washington.

The failure to complete the deal could be interpreted as a political setback for President Trump, who has repeatedly vowed to cancel NAFTA and replace it with something better.

Chief Mexican NAFTA negotiator Kenneth Smith said that the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto had a responsibility to keep negotiating until Mexico's new president, who will be elected on July 1, takes office on December 1.

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch and a supporter of some of the Trump administration's NAFTA demands such as a five-year sunset clause, pushed back against Ryan's deadline.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said that the Republican-controlled Congress would need to be notified of a new deal by Thursday to give lawmakers a chance to approve it before a newly elected Congress takes over in January. Delegations from both countries are meeting in Washington this week after discussions stalled in Beijing. "Mexico and Canada clearly have a desire to modernize NAFTA, and it's unclear if the USA has a desire to modernize NAFTA on Speaker Ryan's timeline".

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