Mexico, U.S. making headway on NATO deal

NAFTA negotiations are down to the wire, with all sides rushing to reach agreement before the end of the week, but a top Mexican official said Sunday that the United States and Mexico are on the verge of wrapping up their discussions.
By Rick Docksai | Sep 08, 2018
U.S. and Mexican negotiators are on the verge of finalizing a revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and will resume what could be the final round of talks Monday morning, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Sunday. The two countries will attempt to reach agreement on revisions and then seek Canada's approval in hopes of wrapping up the negotiation process before the end of the week.

"We've continued making progress," Guajardo said.

Lingering differences remain on new rules for automobile imports, due to the Trump administration demanding a cap limiting the number of cars and SUVs that Mexico can export duty-free to the United States, according to industry sources. They said that the two sides are brooking a compromise that may set a threshold for tariff-free access for Mexican-made vehicles to 75%.

Canada has sat out the Mexico-U.S. talks but plans to rejoin its two neighbors for a final round of NAFTA talks once they iron out all of their differences. Guajardo said that discussions with Canada could take at least another week.

Crunch time is looming, with all three countries under pressure to finish negotiations by the end of this week. The Trump administration must give Congress at least 90 days' notice before it can approve the deal, so if negotiations continue into September, final ratification cannot take place until sometime in December. With Mexican President-Elect and strong NAFTA critic Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador set to take office on December 1, the entire agreement's future would be in doubt.

Obrador has been especially critical of a NAFTA revision opening foreign investment in Mexico's oil and gas sectors. Outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto had worked the energy clause into the new NAFTA deal, but Obrador warns that he will not implement it.

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